“I’ve never experienced a makeover like this before,” says Kelly, Chapter Director at Special Spaces Chicagoland, a non-profit that creates dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Special Spaces approached Sara, age 10, and her parents earlier this year to transform Sara’s bedroom into a dream world. But Sara’s friends, nurses, and community had something even better in mind that would infuse joy and meaning into Sara’s entire home.
Sara’s parents, Rei and Dan, and teenage brother, Josh, have been fighting for Sara since the day she was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 16. Ten years later, Sara now requires dependence on mechanical ventilation and 24/7 skilled hourly home nursing care. (Read Sara’s story here.)
Support rolled in from every direction to make Sara’s dream come true. More than 30 volunteers (including some of Sara’s nurses!) donated their time to help make the redesign happen in one whirlwind of a day. Corporate and community sponsors exceeded Special Spaces fundraising goal, making the five-room redesign possible. Included in the redesign were Sara and Josh’s rooms, plus the bathroom, guest bedroom, and living room.
Before the makeover, the guest room was serving as a medical supply room for Sara’s extra supplies, wheelchair, and stander. Today, it’s a place for family and friends to stay.
Josh’s computer-themed room redesign was an acknowledgment of his significant role in Sara’s life. Due to the complexity of Sara’s diagnosis and care, Josh isn’t always in the spotlight.
When asked about his favorite part of his new room, Josh looks around with huge eyes and says, “Everything!!!”
Sara’s bedroom makeover was the most complex. The team of designers needed to find a way to transform the family’s living room into a functional, safe, and dream-like space for Sara.
The redesigned space includes a hot pink sectional, new organizational system for medical supplies, and a teal desk for her nurses to chart.
Leading Sara’s bedroom redesign were the creators tokidoki, a lifestyle brand featuring Japanese anime characters and designs. Five employees from tokidoki, including the co-founder and chief operating officer, traveled from Los Angeles, California to create Sara’s special space, which included custom lampshades and drawings, as well as scrub tops for Sara’s nurses.
The Big Reveal
The love and joy surrounding Sara and her family during the reveal is unmistakeable.
Sara and her family were speechless as they walked through each room. Rei, who rarely shows emotion, was drawn to tears by the makeover and the impact it will have on her daughter’s life.
Laura, RN, a nurse who has cared for Sara for the past five years, was also overcome with emotion during the reveal.
“Thank you. Thank you so much,” was overheard by Sara’s family as they peeked into each room, admiring all of the finishing touches.
At the end of the reveal, Kelly brought the group of volunteers together again: “I’m so proud of what we accomplished today.”
[To see more photos from Sara’s home makeover, go to our Facebook page.]