There was no holding back the excitement when six-year-old Liam opened the door to his brand new bedroom.
The renovation was truly a community effort, with contributions from local artist Ken Markiewicz from Crayons Gone Wild, the nonprofit Special Spaces, and dozens of Neuqua Valley students. They were all brought together after Steven Matusik heard about Liam’s battle with leukemia, and the Neuqua junior raised $3000 of the $4000 needed to give Liam a new room.
“So Special Spaces actually did a room makeover for my brother Sammy in 2016,” said Matusik, who’s a teen ambassador for Special Spaces. “So I think it’s really special, not to make it cheesy at all, but it’s nice to have my peers contribute to this. They see how it kind of affected my family but they see it through a different family because obviously they weren’t there for when Sammy received his makeover. So I think it’s really cool that everyone is willing to help and give back. I think it’s really nice.”
Steven gathered up 20 of his classmates on Columbus Day to help with the makeover, which included Liam’s “Ninja Warrior”-themed room he shares with nine-year-old brother Jack, and a baseball-themed room for oldest brother, eleven-year-old Michael.
“The kids are here on a holiday, giving up their time for our family,” said Brian Langan, Liam’s dad. “And when you’re going through cancer treatment it’s not fun. So these kinds of opportunities where I get to see my kids light up is fantastic and I can’t say thanks enough.
“It’s just so fun to kind of give suggestions for what we like and what we’re interested in but then just relinquishing all control and coming home to an awesome surprise,” added Liam’s mom Emily Langan.
Liam and Jack’s room now has a rock climbing wall, monkey bars, and a colorful Chicago cityscape mural. Michael’s room has a baseball mural and tons of memorabilia. And both were painted in just six and a half hours.
“When it comes to rooms like this it’s like, I’m not dealing with budgets and anything,” said Markiewicz. “You got a family that’s in need of something to give them more hope, uplift them through everything they’re going through. It’s just priceless being able to work hard all day, [feel] really sore, but then when they come in and that smile [you] just know what it did for them is just the best thing in a world.”
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.