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The house a wish built

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
7-year-old Satori Lewis rolls through the doorway of her new playhouse Wednesday. The house includes windows, heating and air conditioning, a porch, lighting and electricity. The family of one of the businesses also donated a 32-inch LCD television and PlayStation 3.
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DAYTON – Satori Lewis has wanted a playhouse since she was 4 years old. Someplace she could draw her pictures and just be by herself.

Her parents, Jeremy and Melissa Lewis, of Dayton, have been searching for a way to make their little girl’s dream come true. They looked at pre-made playhouses, ones they could build from a kit and even considered buying a shed and converting it.

The problem is that 7-year-old Satori has type II spinal muscular atrophy and is confined to a wheelchair, making most playhouses too small for her.

The rare genetic disease affects the messaging from the brain to the nerves in the muscles and prevents her from walking or sitting up on her own.

Then a year ago the Make-a-Wish Foundation came to grant Satori a wish.

“Her first wish was for a unicorn. I told her that we weren’t zoned for that and the county wouldn’t let us put in an enchanted forest, so she said she wanted a playhouse,” Jeremy Lewis said. “I thought Make-a-Wish was only for terminally ill kids, but they try to help make the lives of all kids with disabilities better.”

The foundation contacted Reynen and Bardis Communities, a design and building firm with an office in Reno, to help grant Satori’s wish.

Satori’s playhouse arrived Wednesday morning in two pieces on a flatbed truck and was assembled by a crew of more than 40 workers representing 27 businesses.

The 10-by-12-foot house includes a front porch with planter boxes, double-paned windows, insulation, heating and air conditioning, electricity, lighting, cabinets, bookshelves and a drawing table.

“She wanted it for her independence. One of the things we decided was that we had to have a nice house and yard because she won’t be able to go to her friends’ houses,” Jeremy said. “We do have a lot of things for her to do, but it all requires help. This is something she can do on her own.”

The house was designed by PHA Architects from a photo that Satori clipped from a magazine, and she was included in almost every decision.

“They came out and brought wood samples for the cabinets for her to see. So many people have gone out of their way for her,” Melissa Lewis said. “She saw the scales on the house and decided it was a dragon house, and that’s how she picked the colors.”

Neal Enard, area construction manager for Reynen and Bardis, said the company enjoys being able to give back to the communities they help build.

“This was something we can do for someone who had a need. We wanted to make it just like a regular house, just smaller,” Enard said.

The cost of the house is estimated at $15,000.

After the house was assembled, a painting and cleaning crew put finishing touches on the interior while the power was hooked up. A neighbor donated sod, which will be installed in front of the home and there will be a garden in back.

Acquaintances from around the world sent flower seeds for Satori to plant around her house and in her garden.

“No way, Jose, did I think it would be this big,” Satori said. “Now that I see it for real, it’s humongous.”

When she entered the playhouse for the first time, Satori found it stocked with a 32-inch LCD television and a PlayStation 3 that were donated by Tim and Tracy Henderson and their three children Nick, Shannon and Shelby.

The Hendersons are subcontractors who worked on the playhouse.

“We just wanted to get involved and make it special for her,” Tim Henderson said.

While her daughter surveyed her new digs, Melissa Lewis stood back in awe.

“It’s so far above what we expected, I’m just speechless. We expected to get a shell of a playhouse, but Reynen and Bardis went above and beyond what we could have even dreamed of,” Melissa said.

Just five minutes in her new house, Satori already had a plan.

“It’s so nice that I was thinking I’d get some chimichangas and Hot Pockets and put my own microwave in here,” she said.

Satori received four keys for the playhouse. She gave one to her little sister Sydney, 4, and the other two to her cousins.

As for her parents, Satori said they’ll have to knock.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

How you can make a wish come true

Volunteer:

Volunteers are needed to help grant wishes, raise funds translate, interpret and plan events.

Donate:

The foundation excepts donations as well as gifts of stocks, bonds, personal property, real estate, bequests, life insurance and IRAs as well as hotel and frequent flier points.

Refer a child:

Make-a-Wish attempts to grant wishes for all medically eligible children between the ages of 2.5 and 18 years old.

Call: 826-8008

On the Net

More information about all these options can be found at:

http://www.nevadawish.org