February 16th, 2018 was one emotional day for all of us at Three Little Dogs! Last year, we were asked to be a part of a SOARD Design Project for a local child in need (our third project with the charity). For those that don't know, SOARD (Sunshine On A Ranney Day) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit approved organization founded in 2012 by Peter and Holly Ranney. Their mission is to renovate homes for children with special needs while restoring hope for families. The organization works with local designers and contractors like us to help design dream spaces for these children that are also functional for their special needs. This includes wheelchair accessible bathrooms, in-home therapy rooms and wheelchair ramps/lifts. The passionate work that is done is 100% volunteered and through SOARD's partnerships with local companies and donors, the makeovers are offered to families at no cost.
We take great pride in the quality of our work, professionalism and passion that is put into each makeover and were over the moon with excitement when the Ranney's told us about Ethan and that he would be next in line for a makeover. This 9-year-old has the most infectious smile you'll ever see.
A traumatic birth following a very healthy pregnancy changed Ethan’s future. After a lengthy delivery, Ethan got stuck in the birth canal and was deprived oxygen. They found that he only had one lung functioning and that one was only functioning at thirteen percent of its capacity. After a week in the hospital and two days the NICU, he pulled through and came home seemingly healthy. Around 8 months old they discovered that he was not meeting developmental milestones at the expected age ranges. He was not sitting up, crawling, or doing tummy time like other babies his age. Finding out what was impacting his development was a long journey. After several seizures, numerous EKGs, MRIs, and respiratory issues, at the age of two, Ethan was finally diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy (CP). The form of CP and Spasticity Ethan has is a neuromuscular condition of hypertonia as an especially high and constant ‘stiffness’ or ‘tightness’ in the muscles of the lower extremities. This form of CP and Spasticity can be quite crippling and causes impaired physical movement, difficulty with fine motor tasks and normal activities such as, dressing, bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair, and speech delay.
These challenges do not phase him. He does not let his disability define him and he does not use it as a crutch. In fact, he does not think of himself as any different from other children his age.
Ethan joyfully crawls, walks in his Kaye walker, and wheels himself in his wheelchair throughout his day never letting his disability slow him down. He is a fighter and determined to achieve all of his goals. He loves going to school each day and the highlight of his day is riding the school bus. Just like the other kids his age he has many favorites including pancakes, pizza, chocolate milk, spaghetti, race cars, the Georgia Bulldogs, bouncy houses and balls, swimming, video games, music (esp. Luke Bryan!), and the most important of all his iPad! Ethan is also obsessed with watching Fixer Upper and Flip or Flop on HGTV® and talks constantly about ‘beams’ on the ceiling, lights and fans! We took all of this into account when planning and designing his new spaces.
Ethan’s Reveal was absolutely amazing. With the help of some amazing other vendors (listed below), we were able to provide this little man with a wheelchair accessible bathroom and in-home therapy room, where his family can bathe him in a safer environment and he can continue his therapy in the comfort of his own home. This dream makeover has helped facilitate his independence and will continue to brighten his future.
So many people from family, school teachers, therapists, friends, UGA former Eric Zeier, Falcons cheerleaders, sponsors and SOARD volunteers came out rain or shine to take in the special moment Ethan’s family has been patiently waiting six weeks to see! Everyone brought the sunshine as the rain held off for this very special day. We would like to extend a huge thank you to the following companies who either donated products or time:
Reliable Heating & Air, Plumbing & Electrical
Atlas Disposal Atlanta
The Wall Nut
Echols Glass & Mirror
The Town Carpenter
American Signature Furniture
Wood and Metal Creations
Stars & Strikes, Dallas
Manhattan Associates, Inc.
Kristian James Salon
Kirby Smart (UGA)
Matt Stinchcomb (UGA)
Kevin Butler (UGA)
David Pollack (UGA)
All the amazing SOARD volunteers: Patti Knick, Sonja King, Kathi Durden Oâ€™Brien, and Emily Varnam
An extra special thanks to the following businesses that worked directly with us to make this dream-design possible!