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Melanie J.

Chivers give one special girl a fairy tale ending

When Chivers join forces, we create magic. Here’s what we did for Melanie.

This princess is Melanie, seen here with her mom and dad (queen and king, if you will). Like most fairy tales, Melanie’s began with less than perfect circumstances. 

Born very premature and at a tiny 4 pounds 14 ounces, Melanie was healthy; small but mighty. As the months wore on, Melanie stayed small --very small-- and wasn’t reaching milestones like sitting up and crawling. She was given an MRI on her first day of life, which came back normal. Another scan at 8 months, though, revealed why Melanie had been struggling: she has cerebral dysgenesis.

This diagnosis simply means that a baby’s brain did not develop normally before they were born. As a somewhat general term, cerebral dysgenesis can present itself in many ways, for many reasons. In Melanie’s case, it means that she will never be able to walk on her own, feed herself, or use spoken language to communicate.

The number of things she cannot do, however, is far outnumbered by the things she can do. Melanie, now 18 years old, has graduated middle school (with a Sunshine Spirit Award, the highest honor there is in our books), graduated high school (voted best smile...we are sensing a theme) had a blast at Disneyworld, danced the night away at prom where she rolled down the red carpet… this girl is unstoppable.

At this point in the fairy tale, though, a crucial piece was still missing for Melanie: her castle. The family’s home in Philadelphia is inviting and warm, filled with laughter and love. But it was inaccessible for Melanie, thanks to a shoddy addition from the previous owners of their home, and made worse by a bathroom repair gone wrong, both of which led to a very hazardous situation.


The kitchen, which is arguably the most important room in the house, was in fact the most dangerous room in the house for Melanie. Being in the kitchen at all would have been extremely risky for Melanie, as the weight of her wheelchair could cave in the floor, which rested on the ground with no foundation. This meant that Melanie couldn’t take part in helping the family cook and spending quality time together there.

If there’s one thing a beautiful princess like Melanie should be able to do, it is to taste the freshly-baked cookies before her brothers! So Chive Charities decided to get things back to the way they should be.

People with special needs are used to living in a world that doesn’t cater to them. The last place they should feel excluded is in their own home. Melanie’s new kitchen is spacious, modern, and, most importantly, safe!

A pair of awesome Chivers from the Philadelphia chapter were able to swing by Melanie’s house to get us some great pictures of the new renovations. Thank you to Marcus and Trish from TheChive Philly for the photos, and for further conveying to this family that they are never alone now that they are a part of the Chive community.

We were also able to renovate the family’s laundry room, which was previously located in the shed as well.  This renovation will take a load (yes, a laundry pun) off of Melanie’s parents’ shoulders. Not that they are complaining. On the contrary, they have fought tirelessly for their daughter from day 1, always going above and beyond to make sure that Melanie is able to do the things that make her happy, like going to museums, watching sports with dad, and goofing around at family barbecues.

Melanie’s parents have made sure that, one way or another, Melanie feels included and valued in her own home. That is what this renovation is really about. Now, there is nowhere in their home that is “off-limits” for Melanie (well, we don’t know the cookie jar protocol in this household) and Melanie’s family, as well as we, are so thankful to every single Chive Charities donor for making that possible.

Now that her castle is repaired and better than ever, Melanie’s fairy tale is just getting started.

If you read this story and thought to yourself “hey, I think I’d like to change someone’s life today!” well, we have great news for you: it’s super easy! All you have to do is become a Chive Charities donor. Whether its $5 once, $50 every month, or anything in between, your donation will play a part in shaping the life of someone who will appreciate it in ways you could never imagine. To get started, visit our website HERE!

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