Stepping out of the limousine, Callie Truelove greeted the “paparazzi” trying to catch a glimpse of her. More than 100 people, armed with smartphones and digital cameras, waited as the 11-year-old emerged.
“I feel like crying, but I can’t, because I just put makeup on,” she said, shaking the hands of her family, friends and fans.
After a few minutes and several more camera clicks, Callie finally got to meet the man who rode more than 900 miles to be there, Dave Nazaroff. Pedaling up to the driveway, Nazaroff and Ride to Give arrived after five weeks of fundraising for her new therapy room and bedroom. Ride to Give partnered with Sunshine on a Ranney Day to renovate the rooms for Callie, who is diagnosed with a genetic disorder known as Williams syndrome.
Up the driveway, the renovation and fundraising crews stationed a live feed on a flatscreen television to let everyone watch Callie react to her new rooms. Callie quickly burst into tears seeing the jungle theme she always wanted.
“I’m so moving in here now,” she said.
Outside of the house by the live feed, Callie’s supporters laughed and cried along with her as she noticed each new facet of her rooms, from the hammock to the ball pit.
“It just blesses my heart more than I can put it in words,” her grandmother Sandra Roberts said.
After entering the new therapy room, Callie quickly submerged into the ball pit, only to resurface as Nazaroff started poking around to find her. The ball pit serves as a key therapeutic tool after long sessions.
“When she goes to therapy, a lot of times when she gets overstimulated or anxious, she just gets in the balls and lays down,” Roberts said. “It seems like it relaxes her and kind of takes her mind off of it.”
Before Callie arrived at the house, Sunshine on a Ranney Day co-founder Holly Ranney announced that $80,000 had been raised for Callie. After long hours working on the home, Ranney said she and her the team have grown close to the Truelove family.
“I just feel blessed and lucky to be a part of it,” Nazaroff said.
Following Callie’s first walkthrough, family and friends began piling into the new therapy room filled with paintings of wild animals and jungle scenery. It was all smiles as the 11-year-old Truelove celebrated her big day, her glittery hair shimmering from camera flashes in her new room.
“I can never repay them, but we’re so appreciative (of them) making our little girl happy,” her father Keith Truelove said. “She’s been through so much in her 11 years, so many medical issues. It’s just so good to see her laugh and enjoy it.”