Sunshine on a Ranney Day
Roswell couple creates bedroom makeovers for special children
By CANDY WAYLOCK
Against the backdrop of a rain-soaked Atlanta summer, Holly Ranney and her husband, Peter, spread happiness with their aptly named Sunshine on a Ranney Day foundation.
Founded two years ago from their home base in Roswell, the Ranneys have organized a charity that creates unique, personal makeovers for chronically ill children, or those with special needs.
This summer, their most famous “client” was the Halstead family, whose son, Tripp, 2, suffered brain damage last October after being struck by a falling tree while at preschool in Dawson County.
While Tripp’s makeover shined the spotlight on Sunshine and drew out hundreds of volunteers and local companies for what ended up being a whole home makeover, the Ranneys have worked on less high-profile, but equally amazing projects since completing their first project one year ago.
Sunshine recently completed a renovation for Emily Bowman, the Kennesaw State University student struck by a hit-and-run driver and left disabled. The makeover completed by the Ranneys and several other groups allowed the 20-year-old to remain in her family home while she undergoes therapy.
“I am crazy busy … holding a full-time corporate job and running a charity that has exploded and grown so very fast,” said Holly, during a rare break in her schedule. “We just celebrated our one year anniversary. It’s amazing how much we have grown. We started out with 200 Facebook followers and now have over 50,000 from all over the world.”
Holly’s background in interior design and the furniture industry and Pete’s background in accounting and construction provided the perfect backdrop to a dream Holly always had to help children in need.
“This dream was re-awakened every time I heard about kids and families in need of a comfortable bed, a spacious dresser, a fresh coat of paint on the walls,” said Holly, a native of Maryland who works for Rooms to Go Kids as a buyer.
She learned families focus their time and energy on managing their child’s needs, so living space becomes a lesser priority.
To date, Sunshine on a Ranney Day has completed six bedroom makeovers, is currently working on two projects and is reviewing the mountain of applications it receives each month for future projects. Holly said knowing she can’t help everyone is disheartening at times.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear each story and know that we can’t help everyone,” said Holly. “So the only thing we can do is put all of our effort into working on the families that we do commit to, and continue raising money to help grow so our outreach expands.”
This summer was a bittersweet one for the Ranneys, as they celebrated the one-year anniversary of Sunshine and received national attention for their Halstead makeover, but also mourned the death of the child whose bedroom makeover was their first project.
Mathew Majka was just 11 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July 2011. Sunshine selected him for their first makeover, designing a military-themed bedroom after learning Mathew wanted to join the Air Force and loved all things military.
Sunshine completed the makeover in July 2012. Sadly, Mathew died a year later on Aug. 7.
“Mathew was so special to us, as he was our first makeover,” said Holly. “He always wanted to go into the Air Force, so we did his room as a military bunker. Tons of Air Force guys helped with that makeover and [fulfilled] his dream day of going on base and [taking a] private flight.”
At Mathew’s memorial service, Holly said she understood the significance of her foundation, noting the majority of people who had helped with the room transformation were there to honor Mathew.
“It was at his memorial service that I realized, this is not our mission … this was our calling,” said Holly. “My husband and I were meant to do this, and this will be our legacy.”
A graduate of High Point University in North Carolina (“The furniture capital of the world,” said Holly.), she says she rarely is discouraged despite the sadness that often accompanies her projects.
“Hearing people’s stories and seeing what each family goes through, makes me more determined to help,” she explained. “I have been so fortunate to have my health, an awesome husband who shares the same values and commitment that I have and the support from a variety of people and organizations. Every day is actually a good day.”
Sunshine on a Ranney Day has also made her aware of the goodness in people who step in without asking and help without direction.
“When we make a phone call or send out an email to someone to see if they would help our project … the response is amazing,” said Holly. “You see all of the bad news out there a lot, but there really are a lot of good people with huge hearts out there.”
Such was the case with the Halstead makeover, which started with a new bedroom for Tripp and ended with a complete home makeover and national and international attention.
Holly explains she originally contacted Bill and Stacy Halstead last year to create a room makeover for Tripp when he was able to go home from the hospital. But since Bill had redone Tripp’s room prior to the accident, a new makeover was not needed. As time went on, it became apparent Tripp’s medical needs would be better served in a new home.
“I knew with all of their medical bills, expenses and just the daily stress that they were going through, that our charity could make a huge impact on them by taking their [new] home over and making all renovations needed so that when Tripp was able to go home, it was ready … stress free,” said Holly.
Months of renovations and hundreds of people hours, donated labor and products later, the Halsteads moved into their new home over the summer. Holly said the media attention was overwhelming, but proved to be a positive, not a negative, in making the home a reality for the Halsteads.
“A home makeover is not the only thing that resulted from the Halstead project,” said Holly. “Sunshine on a Ranney Day grew a whole new level of respect – not to mention the team that we [brought together] is now a permanent part of our charity and helping with all of our other projects.”
While the results of the home makeover were amazing, Holly said Sunshine will focus primarily on bedroom makeovers to spread their resources farther and take on a home makeover once a year for a special project. Over time, Holly envisions a full-time staff for the business, and projects across the state and eventually the country.
“I believe we have the passion, the hardworking mentality, intelligence and business smarts, respect, relationships and most importantly, the heart to help people,” said Holly. “With that, comes success.”
For more information, visit Sunshine for a Ranney Day.