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The Stone Gate Homeowners Association in Raymore, Missouri lived up to its name recently, turning a heart of stone to the wish of a six-year-old girl battling cancer.

When Make-A-Wish granted Ella a wish, she told her mother she wanted to beat cancer and stop chemotherapy. Her second wish was for a playhouse in her backyard.

J.E. Dunn Construction volunteered to design the playhouse and was readying to begin building when the homeowners’ association in Ella’s neighborhood vetoed the plan.

Ella Schultz has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that strikes 3,000 children each year in the Untied States.

Chemotherapy and radiation are used to treat and control its debilitating symptoms, including frequent infections, pain, and bleeding that is difficult to stop.

For Ella, battling cancer has meant surgeries and as many as seven IV treatments a day. It has also meant putting off kindergarten and not being able to play with other kids.

The Stone Gate Homeowners’ Association ruled that Dunn’s plan violated its covenants governing erecting structures in backyards in the suburb outside Kansas City, saying the decision was “based on aesthetics.” Even after the construction company offered to use materials that blended with the homes in the neighborhood, the association adamantly refused to allow Ella’s playhouse to be built-in the Schultz’s backyard.

What the association didn’t count on was the response from Ella’s neighbors who took action to remind the association that it exists to help the residents create a neighborhood, not merely to enforce rules.

Stone Gate resident, Brett Greble, said the sight of a playhouse wouldn’t bother him, “I want to look out the window and see Ella happy.” It was an opinion that shared by the community as it joined together to put pressure on the association.

It wasn’t the first time Ella’s neighbors rallied around her.

Members of the local police and fire departments shaved their heads to show support when harsh chemotherapy treatments stole Ella’s hair, and the neighbors welcomed her home after a months-long hospital stay with a parade in her honor complete with the high school dance team and a fire truck.

Word of the decision spread and the local CBS television affiliate covered the story with “man on the street” comments denouncing the Stone Gate HOA. A man in Arizona offered to pay any fine assessed against the Schultz family for making their daughter’s wish come true. Hashtag “SaveEllasWish” was born.

Not surprisingly, the association quickly responded with a statement claiming that the original plans didn’t have enough details to merit an exemption, requesting an “immediate meeting to work out a solution as quickly as possible.”

Shortly thereafter, the homeowners’ association announced that Ella’s dream playhouse would be built.

The community shamed it into doing the right thing.

 

 

 

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