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Article updated: 11/17/2013 8:31 AM

Glen Ellyn teen gets room makeover on 'cancerversary'

Glen Ellyn teen's new room is 'perfect'

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom with her parents Michael and Beth Cipriano. The room was designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn looks over her bedroom with her parents Michael and Beth Cipriano. The room was designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Genevieve Cipriano’s decorated furniture, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

Genevieve Cipriano's decorated furniture, designed by Special Spaces Chicagoland, a Naperville nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening medical conditions.

 

Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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A typical teenager, Genevieve Cipriano already spends countless hours in her room. Following Saturday's bedroom makeover by Special Spaces Chicagoland, her parents may never see her again.

The makeover, complete with fresh paint, new, distressed furniture, a canopy bed and decor inspired by Genevieve's own Pinterest account, was donated by Special Spaces.

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"I'm going to be hanging out in here for a while if they need me," Genevieve said following Saturday evening's reveal. "I love everything about it. It's perfect."

The nonprofit organization creates "dream" bedrooms for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Genevieve, now 18, was a varsity gymnast when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, two years ago. After rounds of chemotherapy, her right leg eventually was amputated.

Saturday's makeover was specifically scheduled on the two-year anniversary, or "cancerversary," of her diagnosis as a way to replace a bad memory with a new, happier memory.

"It definitely worked. If I had to pick a word, I'd say today was humbling," she said "It's so heartwarming to know someone out there cares and took time out of their day to do this for me."

In addition to the room renovation, Genevieve's mom, Beth, said volunteers also raked the family's lawn and replaced a slippery flagstone rear entryway with a paver path that will be easier for Genevieve for maneuver.

"We couldn't be more thankful," Beth Cipriano said. "These were some amazing people who did this and we thank them all."

Naperville resident Kelly Knox founded the local chapter of Special Spaces last year after realizing the national organization didn't have one.

Knox had been searching for ways to volunteer while making use of her drapery workroom, but nothing quite fit, she said.

When she read about Special Spaces in a newsletter, she knew it was the perfect opportunity.

"It felt like every single thing in my life had led me to that point," she said.

The chapter performed its first room makeover in February and has done 11 so far, including Genevieve's.

Another 10 are scheduled for next year, and about 20 applicants have lined up for 2015, Knox said.

"Selection is the hardest thing. We never had to turn away child until a month ago," said Knox, who has three full-time volunteers.

Starting in 2015, the organizations' geographic area will shrink to a 25-mile radius from Naperville, she added.

Donors for Genevieve's room makeover include Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation and Primrose School of Naperville. Special Spaces Chicagoland is in need of more sponsors who'll contribute financially, as well as materials and labor, Knox said.

The organization's Facebook page is "Special Spaces Chicagoland." For more information or to donate/volunteer, email kellyk@specialspaces.org.

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