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Updated: Thursday, 29 Nov 2012, 3:23 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012, 10:09 AM CST
HOWARD - Like most girls her age, 6-year-old Kira Mevis of Howard loves story time.
However, she faces challenges most children do not. At 2 years old, she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome -- a neurological disorder affecting mostly girls.
"They develop normally and then they go through a regression and lose their skills," said Patty Mevis, Kira's mother. "She lost her ability to walk, her ability to feed herself and the few words that she had."
Kira's condition requires round-the-clock medical care.
Decorating is not the Mevis family's top priority but it is for Gretchen Loch, co-owner of Kerkhoff Interiors in De Pere. After watching a TV show about children with life-threatening illnesses, Loch decided she would give local kids in the same situation, free bedroom makeovers.
She started the non-profit group, Design Angels in 2011.
"They're going to spend a lot of time recuperating and convalescing in their room, so we want it to be a nice, healthy, happy, warm environment for them," said Loch.
The Mevis' got in touch with Loch after reading a newspaper article featuring another child who received a bedroom makeover from Loch. Once Loch met Kira, she put her team to work right away.
"My goal is to do 90 percent of the work off-site and then just come in and be as least disruptive to the family as I can be," said Loch.
Within a matter of weeks, Kira's once, white-walled bedroom was filled with butterfly decorations, colorful paint and pictures.
"When we have her on her changing table, she's able to look at the butterflies and the alphabet letters up there," said Mevis. "We read it to her and she really seems to be excited to have so much to look at in her room."
Design Angels also stepped in to help Kira's 14-year-old sister, Kenzie. Loch was touched by Kenzie's giving spirit. Before the makeovers began, Kenzie decided she would trade rooms with Kira -- so Kira could have the larger one. It allowed the Mevis' to install a medical lift in Kira's new room, which helps them move her from her bed and wheelchair.
"Often, Kenzie sacrifices something normal in her life because of the needs of her sister," said Mevis. "She got the opportunity to have something that was 'normal and special' for her.'"
The "angels" that Loch recruits for the makeover projects are all volunteers. They all help in different ways -- whether it's with money, their professional skills or their time. However, they all have the same goal of making a difference for families like the Mevis'.
"We thank them for their talent, their time and their compassion," said Mevis.
Click here for a direct link to the Design Angels website, which offers more information on ways you can help.