Riley's Room is part of Cecily's Closet's 50th room makeover celebration!
When nurses Joanne and Jeremy became pregnant with their second child, they knew they needed to get a bigger home. In the process of buying their home and feathering their nest, their eldest son Braden was diagnosed with a mild form of Autism. When Riley was born in November 2013, his diagnosis of neuroblastoma set their plans into a tailspin. An extended hospital stay for Riley ran the family agenda for a while; so they never really had time to focus on the new nursery and playroom. Friends and fellow nurses rallied around the couple as they attended to the needs of both boys, and the NICU nurses at Rady Children’s Hospital recommended the family for a Cecily’s Closet room makeover.
Enter Cecily’s Closet Project Lead and amazing artist, Emily Dolton. Emily knows a thing or two about balancing the needs of a healthy older toddler while tending to a sick baby in the NICU. As a mom of a child with special needs, Emily has lived in this family's shoes. Her heart broke for the family and she jumped in feet first, rolled up her sleeves and worked her fingers to the bone to provide this devoted family with a sanctuary for not just Braden, but for his younger brother Riley. She also managed to pull off a shared playroom for the family to enjoy, too. Emily worked with the family and balanced their tough schedule of caring for two children with significant developmental and medical needs.
The nurses at Rady Children’s have taken to calling Riley, Super Riley, because of his super ability to bounce back from his chemotherapy treatments. Riley was in the NICU and Hem/Onc unit for a total of 119 days before he was discharged home for the first time. Strict visiting rules due to flu and RSV prevented extended family from being able to visit Riley. It wasn't until Riley was able to come home that Braden was finally able to meet his little brother! It was also the first time that Grandpa and Grandma were finally able to hold and snuggle their newest grandchild! Riley has endured a total of 6 chemotherapy rounds and two surgeries - with his third major surgery on May first. This family has always remained optimistic and we're so grateful that we were able to provide a ray of sunshine through the storm.
Emily Dolton enlisted friends to help paint canvases and the talented seamstress, Debby Whaling, (who embroidered the towels for Max’s room last year) to make the custom Superman baby bedding. The pleated crib skirt is perfection!! NICU nurse Julie, renown for her artistic skills, also help create art for this room.
Perhaps our favorite part of Riley’s room is his Hulk Sensory Cool down corner with toys and an unbreakable mirror at baby height. The hulk hands are actually resting on carved wood hulk hands created by wood artist and Adirondack photographer, Jeffrey Gavaletz.
We would like to additionally thank PaintGreen, Sandra Bishop and Diane Niles of the SDRC, Missy and Tori Johnson of Rhapsody in Bloom, Amy McDaniel, Roxanne Constandse, Ranie Hunter, Robert Liwanag and Will Cotter for their friendship and contributions. Special heartfelt thanks to Nurse Julie and her husband who made the reveal day happen and to Commander Teresa Miller for arranging food and baking cookies for our guests! Wow! What a TEAM!
Thank you for making Riley's Sweet Dream Makeover possible!