Zoe is many things – a cheerleader, a daughter, a high schooler, but one thing she is not is a quitter.
Video provided courtesy of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Since birth Zoe has had to deal with Cystic Fibrosis and other pulmonary conditions that complicate her active life and prevent her from engaging in her favorite activities, but throughout her experience she has looked to make everyone around her a bit happier.
When she was 15, Zoe was confined to a hospital bed on her birthday and Christmas, two dates that should have been occasions for celebration and fun.
“It’s hard to be in the hospital for long periods of time,” Zoe said.
As a competitive cheerleader, Zoe has a caring and supportive spirit that can’t be dampened by weeks-long treatments and extended hospital stays.
Instead of succumbing to the negative energy surrounding her time away from a normal teenage life, Zoe decided to change the space she had to spend so much time in.
She brought a cheerfulness to her hospital room by adding festive decorations. This took the form of hand-made pictures that she hung up, such as a painting of a fireplace to add warmth to the room. To celebrate the holidays, she made the space homier by hanging stockings.
Inspired by the happiness that personalizing her hospital room brought her, Zoe decided to use her wish to give back to the other children at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
Her idea: Give the fifth floor a makeover so that the space would be more enjoyable for young patients. Once completed, Zoe felt that the renovation could bring joy to everyone at the hospital – from the kids and their families to the staff that care for them.
“I just felt like if the rooms were even more cheerful, it would be a little easier being there,” Zoe said. “It could help kids get better faster, lift up their spirits and make them happier.”
Zoe’s original ideas for the redecoration of the hospital floor drew upon her artistic sensibilities and sketches inspired by children’s films and Dr. Seuss books.
To bring her wish to life, hospital staff and a volunteer interior design team joined forces in creating the space that Zoe’s wish had made possible. During the process, they referred back to Zoe’s ideas while putting it all together.
Lisa White, wish program manager for Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, remembers how the designers would present concepts of what could be accomplished and Zoe would voice her preferences.
“She was hands-on throughout the entire design process,” Lisa said.
The space was completely converted into the perfect refuge for ill children and their families. Volunteers brought in fun game equipment such as an air hockey table. To add an extra level of comfort, designers brought in couches and chairs, as well as kid-sized desks. All in all, the playroom was turned into a colorful refuge through Zoe’s creative vision.
Zoe was amazed by the transformation of the fifth floor playroom and family room, which was completed just before her high school graduation. Seeing it was the perfect send-off to the next phase of her life, as it marks a turning point before she leaves to attend college in Oregon.
“It’s incredible,” Zoe said. “It just means the world to me that this wish could come true, that I'm able to help so many people and that they will benefit from this wish, too."