Eleven-year-old Maddie Beaver was diagnosed with a cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma in 2013. Thankfully, after receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she’s now in remission.
Earlier this year, Maddie was selected for a room makeover by the Tri-Cities chapter of Special Spaces, the Knoxville-based national nonprofit organization that works to give children with life impacting illnesses the bedrooms of their dreams.
Because she had visited a Rainforest Cafe and loved all the colors, trees and animals, Maddie’s request was for a rain forest bedroom, a desk for drawing and art supplies. Her older sister Morgan, (13) who shares her bedroom, wished for a Paris-themed room with lots of bling, a chandelier and a vanity. The result was Maddie and Morgan’s half-rainforest, half-Paris dream room.
Not to be left out, Maddie’s 7-year-old brother Evan’s request for a Disney Cars bedding, Route 66 signs and a Cars mural for his bedroom was also met by Special Space sponsors and volunteers.
Their special bedrooms were made possible by donations gathered in December from contributors to Electric 94.9 radio’s Acoustic Christmas broadcast presented by Kia of Johnson City. Ashley Grindstaff selected Special Spaces and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee as co-recipients of donations gathered in the holiday benefit. On July 19, the day of Maddie’s makeover, Grindstaff and Electric 94.9’s Izzy from the “Jinger and Izzy” morning show came to help and to take part in the big reveal.
“Maddie requested a rainforest theme. She loves to draw and wanted a desk for her room as well. But because she shares a room with her older sister, Morgan, we wanted to make sure they were both happy,” Krista Wharton, cofounder of the local Special Space affiliate said. “At first, we weren’t sure we could pull off a dual-theme room because of how different the themes are. But with lots of brainstorming, planning, designing and volunteer help, we were able to make both girls very happy.” And because Special Space’s never wants to leave out a child’s siblings out, Evan received a mini-makeover as well.
For Maddie and Morgan’s room, volunteers painted the walls a peaceful, neutral color, replaced its ceiling fan with a new tropical leaf fan, purchased new furniture and bedding, replaced the door with a beaded curtain, installed window film for privacy and heat control, installed custom made Roman shades, laid down a new rug and topped the whole thing off with Morgan’s chandelier. Art supplies for Maddie were donated by Karen McKinnon and accent items from Paris were donated by Special Spaces’ other cofounder, Tamara Marshall, who had just returned from a trip to France.
Evan, who loves all things “Cars,” got new bedding for his bunk beds, his Route 66 signs and a mural depicting two scenes in his favorite movie town, Radiator Springs, sketched and put to canvas by Wharton’s muralist friend Ken Markiewicz of Crayons Gone Wild Murals in Chicago.
For the family, Special Spaces installed new bookcases, shelving and storage in their family room. Photographer Amy Berry donated a family portrait package and documented their makeover day in pictures with help from photographer Mickey Baker.
Tweetise Railroad at Doe River Gorge donated tickets for the family’s makeover day outing but because the weather they took a rain check and Special Space sent them off to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
Wharton’s one word for their reaction to the big reveal was “priceless.”
“Evan was speechless for the first time since we had met him,” she said. “Maddie’s mom texted me the next day saying that all the kids loved their rooms and spent all day there except to come out to eat ... just what we love to hear.”
“Special Spaces Tri-Cities continues to be able to help make a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses due to the overwhelming support and generosity of our Tri-Cities community,” she said. “We couldn’t do what we do without our room sponsors, donors, and tireless volunteers. Each and every person involved makes a difference. We are beyond blessed and thankful.”
For more information about Special Spaces and how to help make a room dream come true for a local child with a life threatening illness, contact Krista Wharton at 865-748-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Special Spaces Tri-Cities on Facebook or www.specialspacestricities.org.