DUBUQUE – Logan Walker’s jaw hangs wide open as the electric train whizzes by overhead.
“He just loves everything in here,” says Jessica Manger, Logan’s mother.
The bedroom is filled with train signs, train cars, train stickers, and train-themed pillows.
A fully-functioning electric train that encircles the room tops it all off.
Suddenly, the train loses speed and slows to a stop.
“Uh oh,” says Logan.
He hurries to the control panel to fix the problem, and the train is back up and running in no time.
A look of wonder return’s to the boy’s face.
He’s in his happy place. And a happy place is exactly what’s needed for a kid fighting the fight that Logan does.
The 11 year-old heads to the doctor once a month for a check-up on a list of ailments and life-threatening conditions that seem to go on and on: Dandy-Walker variant, Pierre Robin Syndrome, bilateral vocal chords, a tracheotomy, a feeding tube, and more.
All this means Logan spends almost 14 hours every day with a nurse.
But when Logan’s in his room, it doesn’t matter.
The magic of locomotives fills Logan’s engine full of happiness.
And it’s all thanks to Ann Decker.
“Oh my gosh Logan, he is a terrific little guy,” she said. “He was so extremely grateful that we were coming in and doing his room.”
Decker and her team at Special Spaces Dubuque give children fighting life-threatening diseases a gift unlike any other.
“They are in the most difficult moments of their life and Special Spaces being able to go in and makeover their bedroom to their dream bedroom really lifts their spirits.”
Special Spaces has re-done 15 bedrooms since they started back in 2014. Each bedroom costs about $4,000 in donations and takes the help of plenty of volunteers to flip in just six hours.
“The children really truly love their rooms,” she said.
She tells the story of Sarah, a child battling Leukemia, who had trouble staying asleep the whole night.
But the day Special Spaces came and renovated her room, she slept through the entire night for the first time in over a year and a half.
“I love the idea and the concept of helping these children and giving them their special room to recover and heal in.”
Special Spaces makes dreams come true. And for Logan, his dream was to have a train-themed bedroom.
So at 9:00am on a chilly day last November, the family left the house, and the volunteers came in.
At 3:00pm, the formerly bland bedroom was gone.
What stood in its place was a palace fit for the future conductor.
“We had just recently moved and we actually had him in the living room in our old house because he has a nurse with him all night,” says Manger. “This is his first room, so it was even more special.”
It shines through with every gasp from Logan.
“We would never have had the means to do everything they did for us. It was amazing…I don’t know what we would’ve done without Special Spaces.”
The next renovation project is coming up in the middle of May. To sign up as a volunteer, donate to the cause, refer a family, or simply learn more, you can visit their Facebook page.
Special thanks to Michael Runde for his contributions as a photographer on this story.
Ben Friedman is an anchor and associate producer for LCTV News. He is a sophomore at Loras College from Ankeny, Iowa. Ben enjoys LCTV because it gives him an opportunity to combine creativity and storytelling in a way that helps him provide value to his community.