On Tuesday I had the privilege of being a part of Special Spaces Chicagoland’s room makeover for Ella.  Ella is a typical almost four year old in so many ways; especially how she interacts with her older siblings. She reminds me of my daughter who is the same age. Ella is in a wheelchair due to a genetic disorder that will eventually claim her life unless medical advances are made.  Her preschool teacher nominated her to receive her new dream room.

One of my favorite parts of the day was talking with the family in their driveway before the room was revealed.  Our film crew, Hildebrand Creative, was talking with the kids and they were playing with the microphone.  Each one wanted a turn to take on and off the wind sleeve and hold the microphone while we were interviewing.  At one point, Ella’s older sister sang Let It Go from Frozen for us.  She knew the whole song and sang if for us beautifully.  In that moment, I forgot why we were there, forgot about Ella being sick and just loved seeing the kids be kids!

Kids With Microphone Special Spaces

The gift to the family is so much more than the paint, furniture, rugs, curtains – it’s that Ella’s medical equipment can be tucked away so the room does not feel like a hospital, that her changing pad is now one long piece instead of two that separate, that there is a small TV should Ella have to be bed ridden post-surgery, and it’s the compassion, hard work and love poured out by the volunteers.

The makeover started many weeks ago when the Special Spaces team met with Ella and her family to discuss Ella’s dream room.  Countless hours were spent between that initial meeting and the makeover day designing the room, buying supplies and planning the day.  Makeover day started at 8:30 am and was high paced, organized and fun right up to the reveal late in the afternoon.

Volunteer hanging item Special Spaces

All of the volunteers were incredible!  Many of them have volunteered for every room that the Chicagoland chapter does, which is true dedication.  After watching and filming them for a day, I believe they keep coming back for three reasons: the children they are helping, Kelly who is the founder of Special Spaces Chicagoland, and each other.

Kelly Sanding Door Special Spaces

Mural Special Spaces

I am truly blessed to have three healthy children.  Even thinking about one of them being really sick makes me feel emptiness and heartache.  Experiencing Ella’s room makeover makes me appreciate what I have even more, which is a gift in itself.

I’d like to thank all of the individuals that volunteered to make over Ella’s room.  They donate their time, treasure and talents!  It was fun to jump in and help by sanding a door, blow drying some paint and pitching in where ever I could.

Special Spaces Sign

Many of the volunteers own their own businesses including: Crayons Gone Wild, B.R. Custom Design, Bob Jung Painting, Valspar, Safe Electrical and D.G. Remodeling.  The room was sponsored by Joel Weinberger with Continental Motors of Naperville.  Joel volunteered for hours doing whatever Kelly threw at him to make Ella’s dream room a reality. If you own a business, this is a great way to give back!

Marion Ruthig, Founder & Executive Director of I Support Community (Now Inside Out Club DuPage)