Local child gets bedroom makeover from Make-A-Wish

Thursday, September 9, 2010
Barbara Tripp and her son, Matthew, 14, play patty-cake Monday in their Cape Girardeau home. The Make-A-Wish Foundation finished remodeling Matthew's new Disney-themed room Aug. 28. (Laura Simon)

While most teenage boys turn to sports, cars and music for amusement, Matthew Meggs is easily entertained by rattles, watching cartoons and playing patty-cake with his mother, Barbara Tripp.

Matthew suffers from a disorder that produces seizures on an almost daily basis. He also has been diagnosed with autism and an immune deficiency disorder. He's 14, but developmentally speaking, he has the mind of a 1-year-old. Matthew's bedroom is not just a place to sleep, it is his sanctuary.

So when Tripp was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation about doing something special for Matthew, she knew right away what he would enjoy and benefit from the most. With the help of Broyhill Furniture and several local Make-A-Wish volunteers and contributors, Matthew now has a newly decorated bedroom featuring Mickey Mouse.

More than half the wish requests to the Make-A-Wish Foundation are for Disney vacations, according to John Wolff, communications coordinator for Make-A-Wish's Missouri chapter. But Tripp thought Matthew would benefit more from the room makeover.

"My son wouldn't get any benefit" from a trip, Tripp said. "He wouldn't understand anything like that. But he spends a lot of time in his room. I just felt like this would be the best thing."

Make-A-Wish volunteers Ted and Sue Stephens of Perryville, Mo., led the team of workers who transformed Matthew's room over a three-day period in late August. The reveal of the bedroom makeover Aug. 28 was attended by the volunteers as well as teacher Helen Kefauver and nurse Linda Milam from Matthew's school, Parkview State School. Kefauver and Milam submitted Matthew's name to Make-A-Wish.

The Stephenses, who went through training as Make-A-Wish volunteers in February, said Matthew's makeover was their first project with the organization. With the help of daughter Leslie and other family members, they did the painting as well as some custom sewing on the Mickey Mouse window treatments.

"It was very rewarding for my husband and I and our daughter, Leslie," Sue Stephens said. "If it makes things more comfortable for Matthew and brightens [Barbara Tripp[']s] day, it was worth it."

Other volunteers installed wall coverings, carpet and furniture. Tripp picked out the furniture with the help of Broyhill retailer Hutson's Fine Furniture in Cape Girardeau.

Chris Hutson of Hutson's Fine Furniture said when Broyhill's corporate headquarters announced its involvement with Make-A-Wish, Hutson's signed up right away. At the time they had no idea a local family would be chosen, so when they learned about Matthew's makeover, the company was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the project. Hutson described the project as "just a wonderful experience for us."

Matthew, who hasn't talked since saying "mama" briefly at age 1, can't communicate his feelings about his new room verbally, but Barbara can tell from his smile and his manner that he is happy with it.

"It made him feel good that he had a new environment," said Tripp, who lives north of Cape Girardeau with her husband, Webb.

While the room makeover has brightened Matthew's world, the long-term prognosis for him is not good. Although the three medications he takes for the immune disorder have helped a little, surgeries to alleviate his seizures have been ineffective, Milam said.

"People who don't respond well to the traditional medications and surgeries don't have a bright outlook," Tripp said. Matthew's doctors "have told me not to expect him to live a long life."

Pertinent address:

43 S. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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