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Six-year-old leukemia survivor granted home movie theater wish


Sophia Becraft, of University Park, watched movies that 'would take her away from everything,' her mother says

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Courtesy Photo. Six-year-old Sophia Becraft, right, and her sisters Isabelle and Emilie sit in the basement movie theater in the University Park, Md., home. The home theater was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Bob's Discount Furniture to Sophia, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor who loves watching movies.

Courtesy Photo. Six-year-old Sophia Becraft, right, and her sisters Isabelle and Emilie sit in the basement movie theater in the University Park, Md., home. The home theater was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Bob's Discount Furniture to Sophia, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor who loves watching movies.

Published on: Wednesday, May 08, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

It’s not every day a child can wish for a movie theater in her basement and get it, but Sophia Becraft, of University Park, is not your average child.

Sophia is an avid movie watcher and when asked why she wished for a home theater instead of a pony, she simply said, “Because I like the movie theater better.” The first movie Sophia planned to watch was “Finding Nemo.”

Thanks to a partnership between the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Bob’s Discount Furniture her wish is being granted.

Make-A-Wish granted Sophia’s desire for a home movie theater after she endured a grueling treatment for an acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which lasted nearly three years. During this time, Sophia endured an “intensive cancer preventative treatment, which consisted of 10 different chemo drugs, over 1,400 pills, 12 emergency room trips, 21 nights in the hospital, two surgeries, 19 procedures requiring general anesthesia, 17 spinal taps and intrathecal chemo procedures, 34 IV chemo infusions, and over 150 needle pricks,” said Christine Becraft, Sophia’s mother.

Throughout this ordeal, Tom and Christine Becraft were counting on their daughter’s recovery. Call it a mother’s instinct, but Christine shared that she knew her daughter would not only recover but be a “success story.”

“Sophia, before June 2009, she was a completely healthy child, like never been to the emergency room, never sick,” Christine said. “And starting in June 2009, it was like stomach problems, these intense stomach aches. And, we went to the emergency room at Holy Cross, and they couldn’t figure out the problem.”

Since Sophia was still functional, her parents continued letting her participate in everyday activities and life seemed to go on as normal until a phone call at 4 o’clock in the morning changed everything. It was the pediatrician ordering the Becrafts to pack their bags and take Sophia to the hospital. Tom and Christine took their daughter to the emergency room and waited for hours for test results.

“I could see the doctors kind of huddling all around each other, sort of looking over our way, thinking, ‘What could be the issue?’ And finally, someone came down from the oncology department and said that she has leukemia, which doesn’t run in our family because there’s no genetic predisposition or anything like that, so it totally just blew us away,” Christine said. “I think for the first week, we were trying to get a grasp on ‘What is leukemia?’ and ‘Is she going to live?’ ‘How many years does she have to live?’ and ‘What’s this going to be like?’”

Sophia’s doctors started the chemo treatments immediately and she went into remission right away, but it was advised that she follow the proven protocol of all three years of chemo.

That protocol caused Sophia to lose all of her hair and often made her sick, but her parents pushed to not only take care of Sophia but to keep life around her as normal as possible. They took her to preschool and engaged her in activities until the medical procedures administered to Sophia at Children’s National Hospital concluded in March 2012. Sophia is now 6 years old, and her parents are stronger than ever for what they went through with their daughter.

“We just dealt with it kind of the best we could,” Christine said. “I mean, we just had to go through it. People ask us, ‘How did we get through it? How did she get through it?’And we just forged ahead. We knew she had to do everything. We followed the doctor’s orders precisely. But it was hard, it was really hard.”

Christine gives credit to Make-A-Wish Foundation for being the silver lining in the clouds that hovered over their lives during Sophia’s illness.

“Make-A-Wish was huge,” she said. “We actually were in contact with them I think in the second year of her treatment, and they right away said she was eligible and they had signed up a Wish Coordinator.”

Christine said it took some time for the Wish Coordinator to help Sophia narrow down her options for a wish. But after discussing the traditional wishes such as a trip to Disney World and other opportunities, Sophia’s love for movies came into play as did her wish for a movie theater in the basement of the new house her family was moving into soon.

“She loves movies,” Christine said. “The whole time she was sick, we would pop in a movie for her and it would take her away from everything. Between school and the activities, she’s really busy, but when she can watch a movie, she can sit back and unwind and it’s something we can do as a family together. So it makes sense that now we have a movie theater we can all sit in, and she has a popcorn popper which she is in love with and the movie theater’s all done.”

Bob’s Discount Furniture came on board to help make Sophia’s wish come true. The store offered what Christine calls “perfect stuff” such as consoles between chairs to hold the cups and a tray area on which movie goers can place their food. According to a press release, Bob’s Discount Furniture donated a variety of room furnishings for Sophia’s wish, including a sectional reclining coach, reclining chairs, tables and a decorative rug.

Thanks to an alliance created in April 2012 between Bob’s Discount Furniture and Make-A-Wish, Bob’s donated $45,000 in gift cards to help grant children’s wishes and Sophia was able to have her movie theater.

Tara Wilson-Jones, director of communication and public relations for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, described the passion behind Make-A-Wish Foundation’s mission to make children’s wishes come true at a time when they’re fighting for their lives.

“It’s a privilege to be able to grant these wishes,” she said. “We’re the bright spot on the horizon for families that are going through incredibly tough times and for kids who just want to be able to have some choices and some fun. They’re facing such adult situations and diseases, and we come to work, we approach every wish with a passion knowing that if we can bring that magic into their lives and make those smiles come back and share some joy with them, then that’s gift to them and a gift back to us.”

According to a press release, Bob’s Discount Furniture  helps Make-A-Wish grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Sophia’s basement makeover is just one example of the continued dedication of Bob’s Discount Furniture to Make-A-Wish and its mission of giving hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions by granting their “one true wish.”

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