Alene Campbell, a 9-year-old with cystic fibrosis, cut a bright blue ribbon to officially open her new barn Saturday, made possible through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lowe’s Heroes and community volunteers.
The steel barn, also known as a mare motel, was decorated with purple streamers and balloons for the event. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the structure was completed after Erica Abel presented a wood-burned sign that read “Alene’s Corral” to hang from the entrance.
Alene said she was so excited, she wanted to sleep in the barn that night. She said she’s going to use the barn for raising livestock when she starts 4-H Club next year.
“I could put my 4-H stuff in it and put in all my animals in it so I won’t have to chase them across the field,” Alene said. “I have rabbits, dogs, cats, horses, cows, goats and I think that might be it.”
Sam Campbell, Alene’s mother, said Alene was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was two weeks old. They got in contact with Make-A-Wish last year through Emily Somerville, a social worker at Oregon Health and Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Lindsey Prange from Make-A-Wish contacted Lowe’s Heroes to construct the barn and was at the event to facilitate the ribbon cutting.
Rick Steed, a family friend and Make-A-Wish volunteer, said he was not surprised that Alene’s wish was to have a new barn for her livestock.
“This is her. She’ll be spending a lot of time out here. The older she gets, she’ll be spending more time out here,” Steed said.
He said he’s known Alene for most of her life and said her diagnosis has not held her back.
“She is just a go-getter. It’s just part of life for her,” Steed said. “She’s not letting it get her down at all. I’ve never seen her have a bad day and I’ve known her since, like, forever. Her whole life.”
Sam Campbell said Alene’s been raising livestock for years.
“When she was diagnosed I had to stay home with her. The doctors requested that we do that and not expose her to daycare. So I started raising goats,” Campbell said. “She helped me build up that herd and we’ve gotten up to 200 and something goats and saved up and bought cattle.”
Dan Campbell, Alene’s dad, said the decision between taking a trip and making the barn was an easy one.
“A vacation, we can give her. Something like this, she gets every day and she can play with every day,” he said. “It’s halfway mobile, so when she’s older if she chooses she can take it with her and it’s hers when she’s an adult.”
Michelle Yow, a family friend of the Campbells, said she was excited for Alene because now she will have a place to raise her animals.
“It’s seriously so fun and she’s so excited about it. It’s something that probably wouldn’t have been able to happen, and so for her to have all this — it’s the biggest thing in the world,” she said.
The Lowe’s Heroes program grants every Lowe’s store funding to facilitate a community service project in the community. Volunteers from the Lowe’s Heroes built the barn for Alene in just two days, completing the project last week.
“We got a call from Lindsey at Make-A-Wish and it just spoke to us and of course we jumped right on it. This is what Lowe’s does in our community,” said Allison Bailey, the assistant store manager of Lowe’s in Roseburg. “We have a book that we made, a photo album from day one all the way through so she can keep it.”
John Vian, a pro supervisor at Lowe’s, said this experience was very rewarding.
“It was something we really wanted to do. Like Alison said, when we read the communication from Lindsey about this, were all in. This is exactly what we want to do. This type of stuff we love to do,” Vain said.
Yow said the event was planned to be an ice cream social, but that Sam Campbell wanted to say thank you to the volunteers and Prange from the Make-A-Wish foundation and pulled together a barbecue.
“Sam said, how about we treat you and do all this for you since she’s done all of this,” Yow said. “Sam wanted to make sure she got to relax and enjoy this part.”