Special needs child gets big surprise

- An Alpharetta boy living with a rare brain disorder received a special surprise.

Eli Manus, 7, had his entire bedroom and bathroom remodeled with a theme inspired by his favorite Disney character, Winnie the Pooh. That's because his parents tell us Eli giggled for the first time ever when he met Pooh at Disney World.

"When he saw Winnie the Pooh, he couldn't stop laughing," said Cristina Manus, Eli's mother. "He probably feels so special right now."

The bathroom was remodeled to accommodate Eli's disability and the bathtub is now wheelchair accessible. Eli has Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Type 7, a condition that affects the brain, immune system and skin. His father said the family wanted to remodel sooner, but they've been overwhelmed with medical costs. 

At no cost to the family, the makeover was provided by Sunshine on a Ranney Day, a nonprofit that renovates homes for children with special needs or long-term illnesses. 

"Cristina, Eli's mom, is now able to give her son a bath without having to worry about dropping him or injuring herself," said Stephanie Baldwin, Makeover Coordinator for Sunshine on a Ranney Day.

Around forty family members, friends, donors and members of the Filipino community came out for the big reveal on April Fools Day. The Filipino couple, who immigrated to America in 2005 and became U.S. citizens, says they are extremely grateful.

"It's so overwhelming," said Eugene Manus, Eli's father. "I'm so happy that this happened and words is not enough to express my feelings."

The nonprofit holds an annual gala and other fundraising initiatives to raise funding for home modifications. Tiles, flooring, furniture and other elements are donated by partners. They also apply for several grants to support the renovations.

Their goal is to complete twenty makeovers in 2017 and impact as many families as possible. For more information on Sunshine on a Ranney Day, visit www.sunshineonaranneyday.com

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