Fact: everyone can benefit from having a cheerleader in their corner.
Perhaps nobody knows this better than Zoe– a vibrant 18-year-old from Westlake who, as a competitive cheerleader, understands the importance of rallying the team when faced with adversity.
Unfortunately, she’s no stranger to personal adversity either.
Born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and other pulmonary conditions, Zoe’s life-threatening medical condition inevitably puts her active lifestyle on hold multiple times a year, often for weeks at a time, as she undergoes treatment at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.
When Zoe was 15, she had to spend her birthday and eventually Christmas in the hospital – a clear downer for an upbeat girl.
“It’s hard to be in the hospital for long periods of time,” Zoe said.
To make her hospital room feel more cheerful and personalized, Zoe would hang up hand-made pictures in her room. She even painted a picture of a fireplace and hung stockings around it to make it look and feel more like home during a prolonged winter’s stay. It was during this time that her wish came into focus: to give the fifth floor of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital a makeover to make it even more cheerful for the kids, families and staff who spend so much time there.
Inspired by the vibrancy of Disney films and Dr. Seuss books, Zoe had a vision and began sketching and sharing her ideas with hospital staff.
And, being the selfless encourager that she is, Zoe knew her wish could have a long-lasting impact.
“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.”
Lisa White, Wish Program Manager for Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, shared how hospital staff, a volunteer interior design team came together with Zoe to make her wish a reality.
“The designers would present concepts of what could be accomplished and Zoe would voice her preferences,” Lisa said. “She was hands-on throughout the entire design process.”
Zoe’s wish was granted on April 29, 2014 – just weeks ahead of her high school graduation and eventual departure for college in Oregon. And it’s fitting that so many would be on hand to cheer on this cheerleader for her big moment.
“It’s incredible,” Zoe told media on the day her wish was revealed to the public. “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."
The fifth floor playroom and family room were transformed into a kaleidoscope of purple, blue, orange and green through the use of fabric, paint and window tints. From an air hockey table and kid-sized desks to comfortable couches and funky chairs, these common spaces on the hospital’s fifth floor are now anything but common. They’ve been transformed into vibrant and inspiring places for kids and families to relax and have fun.
And for Zoe – as well as the countless number of kids who will make their way to the fifth floor of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital – that’s truly something to cheer about.