An 8-year-old Lynchburg girl who is fighting leukemia and battling through chemotherapy was granted her wish for her very own “she-shed” from Make-A-Wish Monday afternoon.
Olivia Furbee was all smiles as the charitable organization held a reveal party for a teal, purple and pink structure that Furbee designed to be much more than a play house, complete with a comfy chair, dog bed and her very own desk and chair, and with an upper level for when friends come over to play or for an air mattress when she really wants to get away from it all.
“This is my new home,” Olivia said as she settled in to her new private getaway, which is just off the back deck of her Lynchburg home. “I really love it.”
The only thing missing was a cup of iced coffee from McDonald’s, which her mother said she has a weakness for, to go along with another favorite, animal crackers.
Olivia’s parents, Amy and Tim Furbee, said the Make-A-Wish program meant a lot to them and their little girl.
“This is just awesome, there is no other word to explain it,” Amy Furbee said. “She’s been doing chemo treatments for the last two and a half years and she’s got six more weeks of it, and the prognosis is looking good. What Make-A-Wish has done for her is fantastic.”
Katie Ferrell, communications manager for the Ohio chapter of the Phoenix based non-profit, said Olivia’s wish was for “a place that’s all her own where she can escape from the world for a little bit and just enjoy being a little girl.”
“To be able to grant a wish like this is incredible,” Ferrell said. “When you see a child get their wish granted, these wishes are transformational because it gives them renewed hope, their joy is back and they get their fighting spirit back, and they remember what life was like before they got sick.”
Pete Delois’ Recreations Outlet, with locations in Milford and the Columbus suburb of Powell, is the company that delivered Olivia’s she-shed, and Ferrell said that without community partners like it, they wouldn’t be able to make wishes like Olivia Furbee’s come true.
“We didn’t build it, but it was built for us by the Amish,” Delois said. “Kayla Blankenship of our team was really the one who is responsible for painting it, doing all the custom signs, and the folks from Make-A-Wish provided all these ‘she-shed’ accessories, and we added to them as well.”
He said their partnership with Make-A-Wish came about several years ago, and that being in the “kid business,” he felt a desire to help support children’s causes.
“Olivia came in and told us kind of what she wanted,” Blankenship said. “She wanted it to be brown outside, pink and teal and purple with gray flooring on the inside, and we added some other little touches to make Olivia feel more at home.”
For Blankenship, who calls Maineville home, what she does is personal since her own sister, who was fighting non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, was granted a wish from the organization in 2005.
Ferrell said what was formerly called the Make-A-Wish Foundation got its start in the spring of 1980 when, during a nighttime stake out, a customs agent told a fellow Arizona police officer about his wife’s friend whose 7-year-old son was battling leukemia, and that little Chris Greicius wished he could be a policeman and “catch bad guys.”
Arizona Department of Public Safety officers pooled their resources and for one precious day in April of that year, she said the little boy was made the states’ first and only honorary DPS officer, complete with uniform, “Smokey Bear” hat and helicopter ride to headquarters so he could “qualify” on his battery-powered motorcycle to get his motorcycle officer’s wings.
A year later, the new non-profit charity had enough funding to grant its first official wish to a little boy named Frank who wanted to be a fireman.
She said some of the wishes granted run the gamut from wanting to be a highway construction worker for a day, building a tree house or going on a shopping spree, all the way up to a recent wish granted to a teenage girl in Chardon, Ohio who wanted to give her school a state-of-the-art choir room.
Children can be referred to Make-A-Wish from the ages of two and a half years through 18, but to allow for the time it can take in granting some wishes, Ferrell said it has extended that in certain cases to age 21 so the child doesn’t age-out of the program.
She and fellow board member Juliet Tissot said there is an urgent need for volunteers in helping the organization to grant wishes for children currently on a waiting list in Highland, Adams and Brown counties
Ferrell said Make-A-Wish has 60 chapters nationwide with nearly 250 children in southern Ohio alone who are awaiting for their wish to come true. To get more information on how to help, visit its website at www.oki.wish.org or follow it on social media @makeawishohkyin.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.