A 10-year old Anthem boy is now sleeping in the room of his dreams. The non-profit organization Room for Joy chose Landon Priest as the 42nd recipient of a brand new bedroom makeover.
The group does room makeovers for children with chronic illnesses. Landon Priest was introduced to the group by staff at Banner Children's at Banner Thunderbird.
The group put Landon and his family up at a hotel, and paid for them to have a fun weekend while they went to work.
Landon is diagnosed with primary immune deficiency, colonic dismotility, CFTR dysfunction, and a bicuspid aortic valve. He also has a cecostomy tube and a port in his chest. Landon's family said he had spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals.
Room for Joy went out to the family's home months before the makeover to talk with Landon and find out what his dream bedroom would look like. He chose a Star Wars theme.
The team showed up on Friday and worked non-stop until Sunday. From carpenters to artists, they ripped out the flooring in his room, emptied out his closets and replaced everything. From a brand new wardrobe, to paneled walls with murals, a huge space ship, R2D2, and a desk that lights up, his room looked like something out of a galaxy far, far away.
A welcome home and reveal party took place at the family's home in Anthem on Sunday afternoon. There to greet him were family members, friends, and characters from Star Wars.
Landon appeared speechless when he walked in the door. The child covered his mouth and just walked around absorbing everything in awe.
"It's super cool," said Landon Priest. When asked if he was happy, he relied "Yes. Y-E-S."
"Wow, it's overwhelming. I can't even, there's just no words," said Krystal Schripsema, Landon's mom.
Tory Smock, the CEO of Room For Joy said the parents' reaction was just as good to see as the childs.
"The parents have cried, many of them write to me long after we're gone telling me how great it is, how happy their child is," said Smock.
She started the venture ten years ago, after battling her own childhood illness.
"I was born with scoliosis. As a child, I was in and out of the hospital a lot. I realize the importance of having a sanctuary and a special place when you're dealing with medical issues," said Smock.
Because of his illnesses, Landon had not been able to attend school or spend too much time with his friends. On this Sunday, his friends were all crowded into his room, admiring the makeover, and playing video games.
Landon's dad Scott Priest, who was also a Star Wars fan, called the room spectacular.
"Yeah, I might just roll out a sleeping bag right here," said Priest.
Room for Joy worked with local hospitals to find children eligible for the makeovers. The hospitals had waiting lists, and a child was selected after Room for Joy found a sponsor. They typically spent $10,000 per room. From Cinderella, to super heroes, and A Bug's Life, Smock said they had created dream rooms with many different themes, surprisingly never the same one twice.
Michelle Vetrano from Scottsdale sponsored Landon's room. This was the 17th room she had sponsored.
"I do this because it's a joy and passion I have that brings hope to a family," said Vetrano.
She was the founder of the Giving Hope Worldwide Foundation, a private non-profit that had also built a baby's home in Africa. Vetrano said hundreds of babies were getting cared for at the home there. The foundation does not seek public donations.
Room For Joy is always looking for volunteers and room sponsors. If you'd like to help go to www.roomforjoy.org.
You can get more information about the Giving Hope Worldwide Foundation at http://www.givinghopeworldwide.com/