There's a good feeling that comes with having something new, and for a group of very brave kids in San Diego, it’s a feeling they deserve.
Thanks to a local group called Savvy Giving By Design, kids battling life-threatening illnesses are getting bedroom makeovers for free. The group was started by an interior designer named Susan Wintersteen.
"For the families, I‘ve found that it’s a nice distraction for them," said Wintersteen. "I think the parents take satisfaction in knowing their children are comfortable at night."
So far, she’s helped makeover about two dozen rooms for patients and their siblings, and each space is unique. They range from outer space themes to princesses or superheroes, each room custom-designed per each patient’s requests.
Wintersteen said this forces her to think outside the box of how she would normally design for a client.
"It’s kinda shocking, kinda like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know this was possible,'" she said. "We are trying our hardest because how can you say no to anything that any of these kids want?"
One of the patients is 4-year-old Layla Escalante, diagnosed two years ago with an inoperable brain tumor. Her mom, Autumn Escalante, said Layla was in a coma in November 2016 when they found out about the room makeover project.
"We did not think we would bring her back from that," said Autumn.
So, when Layla and her younger sister walked into their new princess-themed bedroom for the first time, their mom, overcome with emotion, cried and hugged Wintersteen.
"I mean, it literally took your breath away. I thought I was going to fall over," she said. "It takes a lot to find that kind of joy with the kind of stuff she’s going through."
Wintersteen said the designers and contractors she works with do the work usually for a fraction of what they would normally charge, or sometimes even donate their time and talents.
She said seeing the reactions from the kids is all the payment she ever needs.
"They love it, yeah," she said, beaming. "It doesn’t get much better."
The nonprofit organization relies on donations and has its annual fundraiser coming up on Sept. 9 at the Omni La Costa.
To find out more about Savvy Giving By Design and to see more videos of the room reveals, visit the nonprofit's website here.