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Tag: In Progress

The Drake House

Founded in 2006

The Drake House provides housing and education programs for single mothers and their children who are experiencing homelessness in North Metro Atlanta.  It is a community where every family has the opportunity to recover quickly and with dignity from their homeless situation.  

Each year Sunshine on a Ranney Day completes a special community project that helps a large number of children & families.  Sunshine on a Ranney Day is excited to announce that we will be helping The Drake House by renovating their main headquarters.  This makeover includes redesigning and renovating multiple rooms that serve as classrooms for kids studying, learning life skills, arts and crafts, and safe spaces for them to lounge.  The rooms also serve to help moms with relationship building, parenting, health and wellness, and money management.  

“Over 40% of Atlanta’s homeless population are women and children. “

The goal of the makeover is to create flexible use spaces that allow the children to feel at home in a learning/activity environment.  The spaces also help keep the community of kids engaged with each other, creating an extended ‘family’ feel.  The central community space in the basement is the food serving spaces. These spaces are currently extremely cramped and do not have a natural flow, inhibiting the ability to smoothly and efficiently cater to each family that is participating in the buffet line.  We will be creating this natural flow through relocation of structural walls and the addition of a large island space.  There is not currently a dedicated space for older children to teens to be able to gather for free time and engage with The Drake House volunteers for tutoring.  We will be converting the upstairs executive offices into that space, providing a leisure space as well as a learning/meeting space.  

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Griffin

  • 11 Years Old

  • Autism

Griffin was born at full term without any health problems. Early on, he met all of his developmental milestones and even did some things early.  Within the first week of birth, Griffin was holding his head up and looking around as well as rolling over.

Griffin’s family started noticing around 18-24 months that things had started to change for Griffin developmentally. Griffin’s eye contact and vocabulary had decreased and you could see a disconnect when he was around other children his age.  Griffin was so young which made it challenging to diagnose.  It was puzzling to see that Griffin’s vocabulary was advanced but his communication was far behind.  Shortly after Griffin turned three his family started the process of testing for Autism which was the eventual diagnosis.  Griffin’s young age made it difficult to really know what this meant for Griffin long-term.  Griffin receives speech and occupational therapy and most importantly interaction with other children not on the spectrum which has benefited him more than any other therapies.

“Griffin has always been full of energy and was running around the house by 10 months old.”

Present-day, Griffin is thriving! He always makes people laugh and has such a fun personality. Griffin has developed a love for art and one of his favorite hobbies is drawing.  Griffin’s life has inspired some amazing things to happen. Griffin’s dad, Michael, works in law enforcement and created a program where officers visit special needs children at school and become their friend first. They teach the kids that officers are there to help and how to properly act with law enforcement and to not be afraid.  Griffin and his mom have a social media platform where they share about products, events, and places that are Autism friendly.  Griffin’s family continues to raise awareness and shine a positive light on Autism and they are grateful for everyone who has been a part of the journey!

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Photography by Carrie Birchfield Photography

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Brylee

  • 9 Years Old

  • Nemaline Rod Myopathy

Brylee was born with a rare disease, Nemaline Rod Myopathy.  She spent time in the NICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  Brylee had a tracheotomy procedure in order to keep her alive.  It was also explained to Brylee’s family that kids with severe Nemaline, like Brylee, typically live 18 months and can only use their eyelids since the disease affects the muscles.  Brylee has defied the odds, she can move her arms with help, kick her legs, and talks nonstop.

“Brylee loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.”

Brylee is now 10 years old and has had multiple surgeries and visits to the hospital. Brylee is a fighter!  Brylee can drive her wheelchair around the house.  She loves playing with her cousins and friends along with trips to the playground.  Brylee loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.  Brylee and her family are so excited about her accessible bathroom!

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Photography by Kristi Weaver Photography

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Braxton

  • 12 Years Old

  • Spina Bifida Lipomyelomeningocele

Braxton is 13 years old and the oldest of 3, he’s a big brother to Wyatt and Landry.  On most days, you can find him playing basketball in the driveway, gaming on the Xbox, or begging his mom to take him to the Lego store.  Braxton was born with Spina Bifida/Lipomyelomeningocele and has endured over 14 surgeries to date at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  Braxton attends Veritas Classical Schools which is a home school hybrid.  This allows Braxton’s schedule to be more flexible when medical appointments, therapies, and surgeries arise.  Although ambulatory, Braxton’s mobility has lessened over the years and he’s relying more on his wheelchair and other assistive devices to accomplish daily activities. 

“He is very creative and has an 8-foot table housing a giant city that he has designed and continuously recreates all himself.”

Braxton sometimes struggles physically since he is unable to run and walk like most kids his age but that has not slowed him down!  Braxton is the athlete of his family, playing both wheelchair basketball and competing in adaptive track and field for BlazeSports.  He would actually like to participate in ALL adaptive sports, but he would need his own chauffer.  On the basketball court, #5 plays with his whole heart and fierce determination!  Braxton recently made the Prep All-Tournament Team at the NWBA Nationals in 2022.  He hopes to play wheelchair basketball at the collegiate level as well as dreams to make Team USA one day.   On the track, he is a lover of field events and broke the national record for shotput in 2019.  Braxton is also an avid member of Scouts in Troop 1459 and is on track to earn his Eagle Scout Ranking in the future. He recently went on a 4-day adventure to Cumberland Island where he was able to hike over 20 miles with his troop in his Grit Freedom Chair.   Braxton is also a LEGO MANIAC and has thousands and thousands in his room!  He is very creative and has an 8-foot table housing a giant city that he has designed and continuously recreates all himself. He is an amazing artist as well and loves to veg out and play video games with his brother and friends. Braxton is active in his church youth group at North Point Community Church and is surrounded by amazing leaders and friends.  

Braxton’s family calls him Braxton the Brave as he inspires his family everyday through the path that God has laid out before him.  Braxton and his family are so excited about his bedroom and bathroom accessible makeover.  Gaining that extra independence will be a game changer as well as make each day brighter!

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Photography by Niki Murphy Photography

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Ellie

  • 5 Years Old

  • Down Syndrome, Congenital Heart Defect

Ellie is a sweet and funny five-year-old with an infectious smile. Ellie was born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. She had her first open heart surgery at four-months-old and due to medical complications, spent almost five months in the hospital. During our time at CHOA Egleston, we stayed in the newly renovated parent sleep wing provided by Sunshine on a Ranney Day. We spent some of Ellie’s sickest nights there. The rooms were charming and cheerful and allowed us to truly rest and be ready to take care of Ellie in the mornings.

By the time she was two-and-a-half years old, Ellie endured five open-heart surgeries. She has a mechanical heart valve which has significantly improved her heart function. As she gets older, she will outgrow her valve and need additional open-heart surgeries. She has spent nearly 250 days in the hospital and is the bravest girl we know.

Ellie attends many therapies to help her achieve independence and gain strength. Even though it often takes her longer to acquire skills others take for granted, she works hard and never gives up. She is learning how to stand and walk and is getting very close to achieving these milestones.

“Even though it often takes her longer to acquire skills others take for granted, she works hard and never gives up.”

Ellie enjoys spending time with her family. She loves listening to music, especially Baby Shark, and gives the tightest, biggest hugs. Ellie’s favorite person in the world is her 8-year-old sister, Evelyn. Evelyn is Ellie’s biggest cheerleader. Evelyn loves to set up learning stations for Ellie, reads books to her, and encourages her to walk. They enjoy having sleepovers and playing together.

We are so excited for Ellie to get a home makeover therapy room! Having access to this
equipment in our home will help Ellie practice and get stronger so that she can become more independent. We believe Ellie has great potential to achieve her dreams and this is just the beginning for her. Thank you, Sunshine on a Ranney Day for making this possible.

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Photography by Marcelino Aguilar Photography

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Joseph

  • 5 Years Old

  • Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele

Joseph has always been a little Superman. Even after receiving the prenatal diagnosis of spina bifida, we couldn’t have been prepared for the challenges we were about to face. Joseph was born prematurely with a large, open hole in his spine and bravely began his life with 77 days in the NICU. He underwent ten surgeries, countless medical scans and tests, revolving doctor appointments, and multiple hospital stays, which are the routine for so many special needs children. This can be scary for a young child, but Joseph is brave beyond his years.  

Like many children with spina bifida, Joseph developed hydrocephalus, a condition that allows fluid to accumulate in the brain. This can cause brain damage from the buildup of pressure. Joseph had a shunt surgically placed in his skull as a newborn to protect his brain. The tiny tubing and valve keep the fluid that cushions the brain freely flowing. Despite the effects of hydrocephalus and an underdeveloped cerebellum, Joseph grew into a smart, funny little five-year-old boy.

For the first year and a half of his life, Joseph required 24-hour oxygen and a feeding tube for all his nutrition. By 18 months, he received his first tiny wheelchair as he is paralyzed from the waist down. He was non-verbal and used a voice-producing device until the was three and half years old. Then one day he recited the entire alphabet and hasn’t stopped talking since! Today, he only requires supplemental oxygen at night and eats by mouth on his own. He loves showing off his wheelchair “tricks,” meeting new people and learning their names. Although he has some developmental delays you will notice when you meet him, what outshines those is how earnestly he wants to be your friend. He has a strong memory for stories and loves to repeat (and repeat!)  the adventures of historical heroes he has learned about.  

“He loves showing off his wheelchair “tricks,” meeting new people, and learning their names.”

Joseph’s determination through each health challenge is growing into a resolution to be independent. His family and amazing team of therapists is doing everything they can to help him accomplish this. Unfortunately, even something as simple as a narrow doorway can thwart his efforts. That obstacle, along with a flight of stairs, means he must be carried to his bedroom. And this is just the beginning of how Joseph becomes like an infant all over again. He must be lifted to a changing station for diaper changes and all his grooming and bathing needs are fulfilled by mom and dad in a bathroom designed for those who can walk independently. 

Generous friends of the Smith family sent Joseph’s story to Sunshine on a Ranney Day and soon Joseph will have the independence and dignity he desires. The makeover of a downstairs bedroom and the transformation of a bathroom that is not accessible will provide him with the physical means to begin an independence that will stay with him his entire life. We are incredibly excited and grateful to everyone involved with this phenomenal gift.  

Just like Superman, underneath his sweet smile and friendly conversation, Joseph has strength and bravery that has kept this little guy soaring through everything life presents. Thank you to Sunshine on a Ranney Day for breaking down walls to help Joseph not just roll, but fly!

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Photography by Vicki Alsup Photography

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Kaitlyn

  •  12 Years Old

  • Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy

Kaitlyn is a happy and fun-loving 10-year-old girl.  She, unfortunately, lost oxygen during her birth process and experienced seizures shortly after birth.  She had a 16 day NICU stay after birth and experiences many health and gross and fine motor challenges due to her brain injury.  She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at just 8 months old and has been in weekly speech, physical and occupational therapy since just 6 months old.  She also participates in ABA therapy and intensive robotic therapy.   She is unable to use her physical voice but uses a communication device to communicate.  Kaitlyn uses a power wheelchair in the school and community settings and can walk with the support of a gait trainer in her home. 

“Kaitlyn works so hard to overcome her challenges and puts forth so much effort each and every day”

Despite this multitude of challenges, Kaitlyn lives a happy and fulfilling life.  She loves doing yoga, playing Mario Kart with an adaptive controller, and baking with her family.  She runs races with her Dad in an adaptive jogging stroller and has already completed 2 half marathons.  She loves our family beach trips to Hilton Head Island and she even does yoga on the beach!  What fun!  She is active in her church and participates in church worship and dances up a storm each week.  Kaitlyn works so hard to overcome her challenges and puts forth so much effort each and every day.  

We’re so excited for Kaitlyn to have an accessible space to give her independence and a calm place to relax after those sometimes really tough and overstimulating and overtiring days.  She is already starting to ask about makeup and becoming more interested in fashion so it will be so neat to have a space where she can learn to become more independent as she heads into her teen years soon. 

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Photography by Pear Tree Photography

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Anthony Jr. & Lyric

  • 14 & 6 Years Old

  • Quad Cerebal Palsy, Epilepsy, Autism

Anthony Jr. was born on December 15, 2005. He has cerebral palsy and epilepsy caused by brain-damaged experienced during a complicated and difficult birth.  Anthony is non-verbal and wheelchair-dependent.  He is a vibrant child and loves his family.  Anthony enjoys music which is no surprise since he comes from a musical family.  

Despite all of Anthony Jr.’s challenges he can communicate and enjoys a good laugh.  He shows a love for life and what it means to fully live in the moment.  Anthony Jr.’s love for life also keeps his entire family going. 

Lyric, younger brother to Anthony Jr., was born on December 11, 2015. Lyric was diagnosed with autism in 2017.  He is an extremely intelligent little boy and continues to amaze everyone with what he knows.  He enjoys music just like his older brother, Anthony Jr.  Lyric also enjoys being outdoors and interacting with people.  

Lyric faces challenges every day and he works really hard to do his best. He is always the energy in the room that encourages others to be ok in moments of darkness. He is such a loving little boy just like Anthony Jr.  Lyric tries his hardest to help his big brother.  He watches others take care of Anthony Jr. and attempts to mimic their actions. 

Lyric is truly what helps Anthony Jr. continue to smile! Lyric and Anthony Jr. represent brotherly love like no others!

“He is always the energy in the room that encourages others to be ok in moments of darkness.”

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Photography by Vicki Alsup Photography

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