Going to bed at night hasn’t been the easiest of tasks lately for 17-year-old Angel McLeroy. As she’s grown older, it’s become harder for her parents, Jeffrey -- a disabled veteran -- and Tammy, to carry her up the stairs to her bedroom.
Angel was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, yet the family’s Fayetteville, Georgia, home is not wheelchair-accessible, making simple daily activities like showering difficult.
That all changed today thanks to Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a nonprofit organization that designs and builds home makeovers for children with long-term illnesses and their families.
Angel got the surprise of a lifetime when she opened the door to her new pink, white and grey bedroom, now on the ground floor of their house where the garage used to be, filled with a painting station, a makeup counter and most importantly -- a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
“I went ballistic,” the thrilled teenager told ABC News of her new digs. “The art, my pictures, the colors. It’s just amazing and it’s a blessing.”
The room makeover reveal was scheduled to occur on Veterans Day so she could celebrate alongside her father.
“We did it to celebrate both of them together,” Angel’s mom, Tammy, explained. “We are thankful for everybody that served. Two of our kids are military as well. We are an Army strong family. We believe in serving and protecting our freedom. We believe in veterans and what they do and Sunshine on a Ranney Day chose Veterans Day as a way to celebrate both of them at the same time in one perfect day.”
Jeffrey served in the Army for 15 years, a portion of that time as an Airborne Paratrooper, before retiring due to back problems from jumping out of airplanes. His back problems have also made it especially difficult to continue picking up his daughter to carry her upstairs to her former bedroom or bathroom in which her wheelchair didn’t fit.
“It’s been a hard struggle since our older kids have left and it’s just been her mother and I,” said Jeffrey. “As much as I would like to help her, it’s been a real, real struggle.”
His wife said they didn't anticipate the difficulties of moving her around.
“We’ve been in our house about 10 years and we didn’t look at the bigger picture down the road. Angel was little then," she said. "She had a growth spurt around 13 or 14 and she got extremely heavy over the last couple of years.”
The family originally moved to Fayetteville so Angel could attend Joseph Sams School where she could receive therapy and educational support services along with other students with special needs.
Between the new school in a new town and Jeffrey leaving again shortly for deployment, they needed to purchase a new home quickly. And now, that home is equipped to ensure Angel is completely comfortable and capable of being independent and moving about freely.
“I feel that for our family, this is a gift that we don’t know how to thank everyone for. It’s just awesome,” said Jeffrey.