A six-year-old cancer patient in Raymore, Missouri, whose chances of survival have been rated at under five percent, had one wish — and the state's Make-A-Wish Foundation was about to make Ella Joe Schultz's wish come true. And then the little girl's dreams ran headlong into the local homeowner's association. And that's when things started to turn sour.
Ella Joe suffers from a severe form of leukemia. According to a story about her in The Oklahoman newspaper, the little girl has already undergone several surgeries and must receive up to seven IV treatments every day.
Her parents, the paper said, have twice been forced to consider placing their beloved daughter in hospice care. But according to her dad, Pete Schultz, all the little girl talks about in the hospital is her dream playhouse. She wants her own playhouse in her family's backyard.
Not just any playhouse. Ella Joe wants a three bedroom with its own phone and even an upstairs. That's what will make her happy.
And that's what the Missouri Make-A-Wish Foundation was all set to give her, with a local contractor volunteering to build the dream playhouse in the Schultz's own backyard in Raymore's Stonegate subdivision.
The community there has been a blessing, Schultz's parents say. Local cops and firefighters even shaved their own heads when the little girl lost her hair from her chemotherapy treatments.
But when it came time to build the Make-A-Wish playhouse, that's when the Stonegate Homeowner's Association put its foot down.
"The initial request from Make-A-Wish to place a barn-style shed was not accepted because the board did not have enough information to grant an exception to the subdivision's covenants," the association said in a statement — a statement that baffled and dismayed Pete Schultz.
"I don't get it," Schultz told The Oklahoman. "She's earned this — she deserves it. She can't get out and play with other kids. This playhouse is what she would have. Is it really going to hurt someone?"
But the homeowner's group stood firm — until the story started to hit the internet on Wednesday.
"You deny a sick 6-year-old little girl a wish — that's going to upset people," said Elle Joe's great aunt, Stacy Kudron, after checking out some of the comments she saw online.
But guess what? The day after the story of Ella Joe Schultz and her Make-A-Wish playhouse went viral, the Stonegate Homeowner's Association had a sudden change of heart.
"Today, we are happy to share that we have reached a positive resolution to ensure Ella's playhouse will be constructed," the group said in a second statement, sent to KCTV5, which was covering the Elle Joe story closely.
As of Wednesday, Ella Joe Schultz was unfortunately back in the hospital with an infection and high fever. But perhaps the good news that she has her amazing Make-A-Wish playhouse to look forward to when she fights through her latest battle with the illness will lift the little girl's spirits.
[Image: KCTV5 Screen Grab]