THIEF RIVER FALLS — A teenage girl who recently stopped cancer treatment after doctors said nothing was working stepped into a stream of confetti and the embrace of friends and family Sunday at the reveal of her dream bedroom.
Holding signs that read “Gracie hometown hero” and “We love our Gracie,” about 300 people lined Spruce Avenue, as a police escort paved the way for 15-year-old Grace Woods’ return from a respite in Park Rapids, Minn. Upon emerging from the truck, Woods hugged her mom and then rushed toward friends from Kamp Kace, a camp for kids diagnosed with cancer, limping slightly from the tumor that afflicts her leg.
Family friend Allie Enge launched an online fundraiser last month to give Woods, who was diagnosed three years ago with a rare bone cancer called osteogenic sarcoma, the bedroom of her dreams. Exhausted from the wear and tear of cancer treatment, Woods spends most of the day in her bedroom.
“You feel like you’ve already lived 100 years, and you’re just done,” she said.
Within 24 hours of the launch last month, the cause raised about $14,000, far surpassing the initial goal of $5,500.
This past weekend, dozens of community members rallied together to build Woods a bedroom where she could spend her remaining time together with friends and family.
Woods decided not to continue treatment early last month after doctors told her and her family that treatment only would extend her life by three to four months.
Local businesses such as Lee Plumbing and Heating, Fischer Electric and Bergeron Construction donated time and expertise to remodel Woods’ bathroom and bedroom, as well as the downstairs living room—a gift to Woods’ parents.
Stacy Lee, of Lee Plumbing, whose son went to school with Grace, said they could not help Woods in the way they all wanted to.
“We couldn’t make her better,” she said.
Renovating her bathroom was “at least something,” she added.
The bathroom was completely gutted, said Derek Lee, also of Lee Plumbing.
“I figured I could do a little more. I could give her some of her wish list and some of my wish list,” he said, listing off the additions to the bathroom: a new toilet, a touchless faucet, bathtub with whirlpool, a handshower and more storage space.
“I’m just speechless,” said Woods after seeing the finished bedroom, complete with wide-screen TV, rope lights and even a fishbowl attached to the wall. “There’s really no words to describe anything that has happened.”
Enge, who organized the build, said it was a whirlwind of a weekend, with dozens of volunteers sewing pillows, repurposing furniture and painting.
“When Grace was diagnosed with cancer, we were all asking for a miracle,” she said before a crowd of volunteers, friends and family at the reveal Sunday. “It may not be the miracle that we want … (But) you can honestly say that it’s been a miracle. I thank you.”
Todd Woods, Grace’s father, said he was “overwhelmed with the response” and that he never expected so many volunteers to show up — especially on a weekend as sunny as this.
“You truly will never know how much this means to us and how proud we are to be a part of this community,” he said before the crowd.
“It was 10 times what I thought it was going to be,” he said.