MILLEDGEVILLE — While Baldwin High School sophomore Josh Thompson continues to fight his battle with cancer, the 15-year-old and his mother Leigh never imagined coming home from his third surgery to their haven completely transformed.
Rooms of Hope (ROH) learned of Josh’s fight with Stage 4 testicular cancer and selected him as the deserving recipient of the nonprofit’s third room makeover.
“The biggest thing I can say is thank you. There’s not enough times I can say thank you,” Josh said after coming home from surgery in Indianapolis earlier this month. “I knew [Rooms of Hope] was doing something and I had a pretty good idea of their original plan, but that ended up changing. I couldn’t believe the floors were redone; everything had changed. I was very surprised; I was definitely not disappointed with it.”
“I was just speechless when we walked through the door. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I knew they were doing things upstairs, but I had no idea they would put their hands on everything in every room. It was not only Josh, but the rest of the family that was touched; it touched places in my soul that uplifted me,” Leigh added emotionally. “I didn’t have to focus on the house or anything else other than taking care of Josh while we were gone for nine to 10 days.”
ROH is dedicated to providing uplifting, enjoyable and comfortable rooms for ill children between the ages of 4 and 19 in Baldwin, Jones and Putnam counties. The organization enlists the involvement of the community to help donate materials, funds and time.
“It is a gift to me personally to be able to share talents and efforts with families that are as inspiring and appreciative as the Thompsons,” said Tasi Moore, lead designer for ROH. “Professionals and tradesmen that have donated their expertise, time and efforts to help Rooms of Hope projects have been the core of our success.”
During Josh’s previous surgery in July, Leigh and family members began painting his bedroom but were unable to complete the project between doctor visits. Josh’s aunt, Kelli Shadwell, decided to take on the project herself to add her own creative twist to the room before realizing a need for extra hands.
“After helping Kelli finish his room, we decided to do the room next door as a bonus room with a Murphy bed in case he needs a caregiver or have as a guest room for when family visits,” said Linda Griner, president of ROH, “We also saw a need for a little kitchen area with a refrigerator for snacks and his medicine.”
The Thompson family’s “House of Hope” makeover also included a renovation of the upstairs portion of the home as a private space for Josh. A storage room was remodeled into a gym space with equipment, mirrors and a mural. His bedroom was painted and decorated around a camouflage theme.
“I really love the gym; it’s an inspirational room, You just walk in there and you’re overwhelmed with inspiration,” Josh said. “I wanted a camo room, so I went with a green and brown border with camo curtains. I got to pick out a new bed set and a brown recliner to go with it.”
More than 35 businesses, organizations and individuals provided donations of food, money, supplies and skills.
“I cannot wait to know who was involved because I want to thank them personally. I’m excited to seek them out and tell them how much we appreciate what they did,” Leigh said. “I had no idea there were people and organizations willing to do this kind of gift. [ROH] was so happy to be able to do this and it’s very humbling and overwhelming. I can’t wait to pay it forward and help with a future project.”
Josh has already endured chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. His fourth surgery in Indianapolis is scheduled before the end of the year.
“Josh’s favorite room is the workout room. Getting him stronger for the upcoming surgery and helping him in his rehab afterward is going to be key,” Leigh said. “Hopefully we can get him back to a point where he can be a normal kid again and have similar strengths to what he had before. The doctors said he will never play contact sports again, but that’s OK; he’s still an athlete at heart. His body needs to match his heart, and this transformation is going to allow him to do just that.”
For more information about ROH, to get involved, or provide a donation, contact Griner at 478-457-6029, or email email@example.com.
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