The Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) helps bring joy, compassion and support to thousands of children and families across the U.S. each year. I was asked a few months ago to fulfill a small request for Carlos, a 12 year old boy with advanced Leukemia. He wanted a bedroom makeover.
Missy Gerber from Organizer’s Northwest asked me to assist with the design aspects of the room after she and her team finished the organization in his small bedroom. Of all the things a 12 year boy might wish for it may seem unusual he asked for a bedroom makeover. The day I arrived to see Carlos’ bedroom he shared with his younger sister Jackie, I saw a faded, dimly lit room. It lacked color and focus. I can tell you more about the room based on how it made me feel. I was unhappy in the space. It made me feel sad, tired and hopeless. I noticed when I sat on Carlos’ bed beside him and talked about what he wanted in the room his shoulders were slumped. I remember thinking as I was driving back to my studio after our first appointment, “If I came home from radiation and chemotherapy treatments and lay in my bed, would this room lift my spirits?” That became our inspiration for the room: add happiness, energy and hope to the room.
Carlos and his family are immigrants from Mexico. They are kind-hearted, hardworking and family oriented. They are polite and grateful for all they receive – it is even hard for them to make requests. It became clear to me shortly into the project that I needed an interior designer ally who spoke fluent Spanish and had great compassion. I asked Josi Underhill a friend and fellow interior designer from the Interior Design Society. It was a perfect match. The family instantly connected with Josi. I knew I made a great match when they started kissing her when she arrived at their home. It made my heart happy to see such a heartfelt connection!
The Children’s Cancer Association gave us a small, but generous budget for new furniture, linens, paint and accessories. Josi and I decided to split up our design duties. She was responsible for the main concept and design of the room, and I was responsible with gathering the necessary vendors to complete the room. Josi and I spent the last day putting the finishing touches on the room, personalizing the space for Carlos and Jackie. It is always fun to find memories for a room makeover and this room was no exception. We placed school photos of the children on their new dresser, hung one of Jackie’s dresses on the wall, framed a ferrari drawing Carlos completed the year before, and placed a stereo/iPod player given to Carlos by the Children’s Cancer Association. We sprinkled Portland Trailblazer memorabilia in the room, Carlos’ favorite team.
The big “reveal” was amazing. Carlos hadn’t seen his room take shape. He and Jackie were shocked when they entered their new room. The children didn’t say a lot, but their smiles said more than any words could convey.
We also had a chance to fulfill another dream of Carlos. He shared with Josi that his favorite player from the Trailblazers is Brandon Roy. I called Gavin Dawson from 95.5 the Game and he arranged four tickets for the family to an upcoming game, and a meet and greet with Brandon Roy. When we shared the tickets and the meeting with Carlos he paused and said to me, “Are you serious?”
Yes Carlos. We are serious. We love you and wish you health and happiness.
Missy Gerber, Josi Underhill and I would like to acknowledge each person who provided products, services and energy for Carlos. The family will never forget your generosity and kindness.