As Roberts family members opened each door to newly-remodeled rooms in their Channahon home, each looked with amazement, jaws dropped and eyes wide as they overflowed with gratitude for the gift from Morris nonprofit Team Make a Difference.
“Where are we? This doesn’t look like our home,” said Lisa Roberts, the matriarch.
On June 30, TMaD, revealed a home makeover to the Roberts family of Channahon, which began on June 27.
Audra Crowther founded the organization when she designed a space for a friend in need. Years later, the team has completed 11 makeovers of various magnitudes. It's their goal to create spaces for people to heal.
In 2017, Brody Roberts was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was 9. Four days after his diagnosis, he was transferred from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He travels to Peoria every week and then back to St. Jude monthly, with treatments to finish in August of 2020.
Last year, the Roberts family, including mom Lisa, dad Ryan, daughter Sydney and son Brody, were mentioned to Crowther and her team of volunteers, but unfortunately the timing wasn't right. So, when the family came up again this year, Crowther said, everything fell into place.
“Brody and his family are loved by so many, and we are excited to give him and his family something positive to look forward to that will affect them on a daily basis,” she said. “Also, this is our first time working in Channahon, and we are so excited to make a difference here.”
The family already made certain upgrades to the home to ensure better water quality and sanitation, but that was as far as they could go.
“Depending on what chemotherapy he is receiving that week, Brody has severe nausea or pain most days," Lisa said. "We start our days figuring out the best medications to give him in order to alleviate his symptoms and try to give him a little normalcy.”
On the main floor of the home, the team wanted to revamp the former dining room space Brody now uses as a space to rest and recover, where he can keep safe from germs in the house. Since he had shown his dedication as a Chicago Cubs fan, the room was decorated to pay homage to his favorite team.
Everything in the room is brand new, including the couch that pulls into a bed, an armoire, a popcorn machine, a mini fridge, a TV and gaming system, and several Cubs signs and wall hangings. A unique wooden Cubs cover to hide the wall mounted hand sanitizer was also secured into place.
“That was probably my favorite part; it was just so cool,” Brody said.
Sydney was told to close her eyes as the family made their way to the basement to reveal her new space to share with friends.
“Oh my gosh, this looks so much better. ... You painted the ugly bathroom,” Sydney said.
Upstairs, three rooms were stripped down and brought back to life. The old nursery had bunnies on the walls and a small twin bed for when the relatives would come to visit to help out the family. A Murphy bed was added to the space, as well as an armoire and desk.
Sydney’s room was made over, as well. Crowther noted that while siblings may not have an illness, they too feel the effects of a relative's. Sometimes, the needs of those children can fall to the side. In Sydney's room, black and white pictures of friends and family were hung on new wood walls and even a swing was added.
Brody was given a new adjustable bed, which Lisa said was a blessing because he often has bouts with pneumonia and needs to be propped up.
“This experience was so amazing. It’s hard to put into words how grateful, humbled and honored we were to be a part of something so huge,” Lisa said.