NORTH ROYALTON, OHIO (WOIO) - A tree house is something many children enjoy -- it's a special place where they can hide away for a little while and hang out with neighborhood friends.
It's the kind of thing an 11-year-old North Royalton boy has wanted for years, but because of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disorder, that has been out of reach.
Until now, that is.
This week, The Make-A-Wish Foundation took a giant step toward making dreams come true for John "Owen" Dumm. With the help of Payne & Payne Builders and many donations, construction is underway on a brand new tree house in Owen's backyard, complete with a wheelchair ramp so he can use his motorized chair to get inside.
"I really like tree houses," he said. "I watch Treehouse Masters on TV, and I wanted one."
An army of volunteers, led by David Payne, is putting it all together. Owen's father, Tony Dumm, said his back yard was transformed in a matter of days.
"It's just mind boggling, when you look at the amount of people, the materials that were donated. We're just completely amazed," he said.
It will take a couple of weeks to build, but when it's finished, Owen's mother says it's going to be a special place for her son.
"It'll just bring him so much joy, being able to spend time outside with his brothers and be independent, and be able to enjoy the outdoors," said Jen Dumm.
Owen will even be able to sleep in his new mini-house with his two brothers -- it will sleep up to eight people.
He loves the outdoors, and even has a special wheelchair that has a kind of off-road tires to help him navigate bumps and rough terrain. He said he can't wait to spend time in the new tree house, looking at the scenery and using it as a new work space to draw pictures. Owen helped sketch the design for his new tree house, which would have cost about $50,000 -- but David Payne said all but about $2,000 in materials, labor and supplies were donated to make it happen.
It's a dream come true for Owen, and a much-deserved Make-A-Wish, according to Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Dr. Genevive Falconi, who recommended Owen to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"When I think of Owen, I think of someone who has grace, endurance and courage, despite his illness. He never lets his illness stop him from being happy. He even encourages others to do their best," said Falconi.
Those who would like to help children like Owen realize their dreams by receiving a wish can join Denise Dufala at the upcoming Medical Mutual Walk For Wishes at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The annual event will be held July 16. For more information about the walk or making a donation, click or tap here.
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