WHISPERING PINES, N.C. (AP) - When wish granters from the Make-a-Wish Foundation asked Evie Wentz what her wish would be, the 10-year-old already had sketches detailing her vision of a magic treehouse.
Recently, that vision came to life, and Evie, her sisters, her brothers and her friends were all running, climbing, swinging and sliding on the new treehouse.
Evie underwent a kidney transplant after she was diagnosed with kidney failure and put on dialysis for a year. Though she is on the road to recovery, she will still face challenges in the future.
“There was a point after the transplant where we couldn’t have people over to the house because her immune system was so weak,” said Tyler Wentz, Evie’s father. “I just want her to enjoy her life like a normal 10-year-old, to enjoy her childhood.”
Karen and Rick Jarvis of Asheboro acted as Evie’s wish granters. They came to the Wentz’s house in Whispering Pines and met with Evie to discuss her wish. They stayed with the project from start to finish and were just as excited as Evie when it was completed.
“Words can’t really describe what it feels like to see not just the child smiling, but the father, the mother, the brothers, the sisters,” Karen Jarvis said. “That’s what it’s all about. Letting families get away from doctor appointments and transplants and letting them have one fun day. I think we accomplished that, and that was our goal - to bring a smile and some fun back into their lives.”
“Welcome to Our Magic Clubhouse,” read the sign hanging over the front door. Evie’s mother, Heather, said the original plan was to call it “Evie’s Magic Clubhouse,” but that her daughter insisted it didn’t belong to her alone.
“It’s not just mine,” Evie said. “It’s for my sisters and brothers, too.”
The treehouse features a bed, personalized pillows for Evie and her siblings, a sun roof, a hammock, a slide, monkey bars, a reading nook and a rope bridge, which Evie said was one of the most important features.
Donations provided everything from the bed to the pillows to the mulch on the playground to the two weather vanes adorning the roof, which Karen Jarvis said were custom-made and would have cost upward of $1,000.
Kim Farmer, the interior designer for the project, said Evie was specific in what she wanted. Evie provided Farmer with sketches and notes concerning what the treehouse should look like. Farmer said Evie was an avid reader of “The Magic Treehouse” book series, in which a brother and sister use magic books to travel through time.
“She’d been dreaming,” Farmer said of Evie. “I’ve been a residential designer for 15 years. I’ve worked on a lot of big house projects, but this has been just as rewarding as any home project I’ve ever done, if not more so.
Farmer said there was a deeper meaning to designing the treehouse than she felt on other projects. She tried to match Evie’s designs as closely as possible, and Evie was more than pleased with how it turned out.
“I don’t like the treehouse,” Evie said when asked about her favorite features. “I love it. I can’t choose a favorite. I love it all. I can finally play outside with my friends.”
Make-a-Wish Central and Western North Carolina, a chapter of the national foundation, covers 51 counties and plans to grant 241 wishes this year. Make-a-Wish Development Coordinator Jodi Caruso said the average wish costs $6,000.
“Eighty-two cents of every dollar goes to granting wishes,” Caruso said. “We’ve got 14 paid staff members, and everyone else is volunteering. We are all local. The money raised in these 51 counties stays here.”
Tyler Wentz said he could not thank the foundation, the volunteers and donors enough for making his daughter’s dream a reality. He hopes to give back to the foundation by taking the Trailblaze Challenge, a 28-mile hike through the foothills of the Appalachian Trail.
Wentz is raising money for the challenge, which he must complete in one day, and hopes to raise $12,000 for Make a Wish, enough to grant two wishes to children in need. Donations can be made at www.tinyurl.com/tblaze.
Dana Carroll knows how it feels to give back. She provided funding and support for Evie’s treehouse in honor of her son, Remy Cox, who died last September. A bench inscribed with Remy’s name sits on the treehouse’s patio in honor of his life and Carroll’s donation.
“I know he’s smiling down on us today,” Carroll said. “Evie is a wonderful little girl. We’d never know each other if it weren’t for him. I wish only happiness for the family.”
Evie was beyond happy as she planned the rest of the evening with her sisters in the clubhouse.
“Tonight,” she said, “we may even get to sleep in it.”
Information from: The Sanford Herald, https://www.sanfordherald.com
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