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Ben’s Wish: I Wish for a Place to Hang with Friends

Ben, a 13-year-old, from Southington Connecticut, tried out nearly every recliner available at his local Bob’s Discount Furniture store until he found just the right one.

“I think we have winner,” Ben exclaimed, choosing the Nexus power lift recliner with heat and massage features.

After selecting the perfect recliner, Ben continued his shopping trip, hosted by Bob’s and Make-A-Wish Connecticut, to select several more pieces of furniture to complete his billiards room makeover. 

Ben is not only a survivor of a rare type of brain cancer, but he has also spent one month on life support and nearly a year in the hospital after sustaining a life-threating incident during a routine medical procedure.

Tearing up as she recalls the events, Ben’s mother Stacy, said she’s extremely grateful to be where they are today.

Watching Ben shop for furniture, she commented, “I am so happy to see this come to fruition for him. He defied all the odds. He’s still rehabbing and it’s a long journey, but he takes it all in stride.”

Ben’s wish was to have his own recreation space to hang out with his friends, play pool, and just be a kid.

Stacy and her husband Brian converted their garage into Ben’s new space, which is easy for him to access due to his limited mobility.

Ben had a clear vision for the room overhaul and Wish Granter/Designer, Ashley Drakeley came through to help with the design.

“Ben’s the best,” laughed Ashley. “He’s wise beyond his years to say the least and he knows what he wants, which as a designer, is a wonderful trait for someone to have.”

Ben likes the color red, explained Ashley, so they launched their design from there and brought in elements of leather finishes and bar lighting to give the room a billiards feel.

A volunteer for Make-A-Wish, Ashley operates Winsome Studio, an interior design business, in addition to her fulltime job at ESPN.

Walking through Bob’s, Ben and Ashley worked together to select the perfect fireplace for the space. The next item on the list was selecting a sleeper sofa so Ben’s friends could stay over – this was a must-have for him. Planning game nights with his friends, Ben chose the Bob-O-Pedic Pop Up Sleeper to finish off the space.

“I think what he wants is the experience the room will give him,” said Ashley, “and by being part of picking the furniture and every aspect of it, he knows it’s his room and that it gets to be his sanctuary and ultimately, who doesn’t wish for that?”

Reveal Day: A Celebration with Friends

Neighbors, friends, and family joined the Make-A-Wish Connecticut team to welcome Ben to his new space in late March. Just as his electronic dartboard was hung and the throw blankets tucked into his sofa, Ben burst through the door with a look of awe and surprise.

Senior Wish Coordinator Kailani Gadlin exclaimed, “Happy Wish Day Ben!”

Ben made a beeline to his new recliner and with his feet up he announced, “I think I might sleep here!”

“We love to support Make-A-Wish Connecticut room makeovers,” said Lindsay Ruszczyk, Communications and Community Outreach Director for Bob’s Discount Furniture. “The look on Ben’s face when he tried out his new furniture from Bob’s, is truly a priceless gift to our organization. We wish Ben many happy moments in his billiards room.”

“Make-A-Wish is able to provide life-changing wishes to children with chronic illnesses but we’re not able to do that without the partners in our community like Bob’s,” said Kailani.

Make-A-Wish Connecticut hopes to grant 300 wishes this year.