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Gillsville boy gets bedroom makeover thanks to Make-A-Wish
Foundation makes dream come true
Tracy Amaya, 6, hugs brother Francisco, 5, after he was surprised with his own bedroom Friday in Gillsville. Francisco, who was diagnosed with chronic respiratory failure during infancy, was surprised with a fully decorated and furnished bedroom thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A Gillsville boy got a big surprise Friday - his dream bedroom, complete with a SpongeBob SquarePants theme.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation made the dream come true for Francisco Amaya Jr., 5, who suffers from chronic respiratory failure.

"SpongeBob SquarePants," a Nickelodeon cartoon that follows a quirky sea sponge who lives in an underwater town, is one of Francisco's biggest passions, his mother said.

"He watches it everyday," Blanca Amaya said. "When he hears the music, he dances."

Make-A-Wish staff spent hours transforming the former guest bedroom into his new haven, which he saw for the first time after school on Friday.

"Before, Francisco was sleeping in a crib in his parent's room," Make-A-Wish development coordinator Shandy Arwood said. "Now he'll have his own big boy space."

Francisco, a student at North Jackson Elementary School, was diagnosed with chronic respiratory failure as an infant.

The condition means that many days he can't speak.

His nurse since he was 6 months old, Carlos Barroso, contacted the foundation, which worked with the family on an idea. Francisco spends much of his time indoors, and comfort was an important consideration.

"He had a tiny room before and there was barely room for his machines," Amaya said of her son's medical equipment.

His new bedroom features a full-sized bed, plush reading chair, computer desk, night stand and dresser.

Make-A-Wish teamed with Broyhill Furniture to furnish the room.

The wide-eyed youngster immediately gravitated to the SpongeBob toys Friday and began sorting through his new DVDs. Staff decorated the room with a bedspread, curtains and wall stickers featuring the yellow cartoon.

Barroso said the first-floor bedroom should give Francisco more space to move around with his walker and easier access to the outside; previously his bedroom was on the second floor.

"I think he will be much more active now," Barroso said.

Broyhill employees also lowered the bed and used guardrails from a bunk bed set to increase safety.

Amaya said she felt a new bedroom was an impossibility for her son. The family has had some financial hardship recently, including the loss of Blanca's job.

"I want to let everyone know how grateful I am and for them to be blessed for what they did," she said.

The Amaya family was one of 50 nationwide to be granted a bedroom makeover from the Broyhill and Make-A-Wish partnership this year.

The organization grants hundreds of wishes annually to children 2 1/2 to 18 who are suffering from a life-threatening medical condition.


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