Blissful Bedrooms
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Said’s Bedroom Makeover

During the long weekend of June 10-12, 2016, we completed our 19th bedroom makeover for a young man named Said and what a fantasy-fulfilled weekend full of surprises it was for all!

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Photo album of Said’s Blissful Bedroom

It all started several weeks before Said’s makeover when Jason Zillo, the Director of Media Relations for the New York Yankees, casually reached out to us and expressed a desire to collaborate with Blissful Bedrooms on a project during their annual Hope Week, which takes place every June. We met Jason a few years back when we contacted the Yankees and they graciously agreed to be involved with Jesus’ makeover. He said that he had been following us and was very impressed with our continuing good work. We naturally expressed our enthusiasm for such a fortuitous and unexpected opportunity, and immediately thought of Said as being the perfect beneficiary of such an endeavor, as he was on our waiting list for a bedroom makeover, and his outgoing personality and love of sports fit so well. Over the following weeks, we communicated closely with Jason and his staff, as we formulated the details and planned for Said and his family to be genuinely surprised by a visit from some Yankees players at the start of the makeover weekend. We wanted to make sure that the surprise wouldn’t be revealed before it’s time, so we kept it a secret from pretty much everyone except the members of Team Said. Sorry we kept you in the dark about this, but we wanted you to be surprised as well! Already feeling very honored and privileged by this unexpected attention from the Yankees, in retrospect, we realize that we didn’t fully comprehend the amazing tribute the Yankees organization had in store for Said and Blissful Bedrooms, and the glowing significance and honor of such recognition! It never really hit us that Blissful Bedrooms was going to be officially honored by the Yankees in such a magnificent and prestigious way until it was actually happening! This is how our epic day of being pampered by the Yankees unfolded: 

We started the Friday morning off just like any typical makeover. Blissful Bedrooms volunteers arrived first thing in the morning and unloaded the van and carried in supplies. Then we began preparing the bedroom for the usual foundation work, i.e., removing remaining items from the bedroom, prepping, priming and painting the ceiling and walls, etc. Later that morning, some staff from the Yankees Media Relations Department arrived to help prepare the community room in Said’s building (conveniently located on the same floor of his apartment, and which we had arranged beforehand with the management to use for his makeover weekend) for the arrival of the Yankees Players (5 in total) and the staff accompanying them, as well as the media outlets and camera crews that would be covering the story. It wasn’t until then that we were told which Yankees players would be involved, and much to our amazement and delight, we were informed that one of those players would be none other than the very familiar and famous, and might I add handsome, Alex Rodriguez. (Interestingly, with Alex Rodriguez official retiring from baseball a couple months after this encounter, Said can add another notch to his belt of being the very last Hope Week recipient A-Rod was directly involved with. We know Said will never forget him, and we have a feeling that A-Rod won’t forget his final Hope Week recipient either, given the timing and, of course, Said’s endearing  personality).

At about 11:30 AM we were given the word that the Yankees players and their entourage had arrived and were on their way upstairs. In addition to the five Yankees players – Didi Gregorius, Alex Rodriguez, Aroldis Chapman, Nathan Eovaldi and Aaron Hicks, singer and actor, Rotimi (he is the charismatic guy standing in the front center of the photo below), came out to support Said. At first, we didn’t recognize that he was a celebrity simply because he was so incredibly down-to-earth and gave off the vibe that he was a fellow Blissful Bedrooms volunteer. In fact, every member of the star-studded team was so easy going and approachable during the whole experience and was extremely friendly, humble and helpful! 

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After a quick briefing and discussion in the community room, together we all came up with a plan of execution for the big surprise that awaited Said and his family, who were instructed to stay put in their living room for an important announcement from the Blissful Bedrooms volunteers, and they had no idea in the world what was in store for them! Blissful Bedrooms volunteers led the line, followed by the surprise guests, and we descended down the hallway into Said’s apartment. We all piled into the small kitchen/living room space and Said and his family looked up with curiosity mixed with confusion in their eyes. Then, the Yankees players appeared behind us and they were pretty obvious as they towered over everyone else, filling the space with a palpable star-quality energy. Gradually, recognition spread over the family members faces and Said’s mother and his Nana jumped up from the couch and began to squeal with emotion. The last one to register what was going on was Said, but it was clear when it clicked because his eyes became wide with wonder, followed by his face becoming red and contorted, and he started crying with the realization that he was the one they had come to see! The Yankees players quickly stepped in and started chatting with him and making him feel comfortable. 

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They asked to see his bedroom and Said’s Mom nervously led the way, pushing her son in his wheelchair. Said was cool as a cucumber and so proud as he showed these famous athletes his room. It was then that a Yankees carpenter presented Said with a bat rack that he and his woodworking team built personally for Said (for which they used some of the old Yankee Stadium facade), while A-Rod and the rest of the players gave Said autographed bats to hang on the rack and a framed base autographed by all of the current Yankees players. They also presented Said with other thoughtful gifts, including some that spoke to his other favorite sport, i.e., an autographed basketball by NBA legend, Dikembe Mutombo, a James Lebron jersey, as well as an array of luxurious Coach items which, included a baseball mitt, backpack and more. Mom was gifted with a beautiful Yankees Coach bag, which will always be a reminder to her of the day the Yankees gave her the most precious gift of all, when they went out of their way to make her only son, her heart and soul, sparkle with happiness! 

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After that, the Yankees players got to work. They humbly accepted assignments from the Blissful Bedrooms volunteers and began painting the walls of Said’s bedroom, as well as some custom crafted, Yankees-inspired items that the talented Blissful Bedrooms carpenters designed and built. (Here is a little inside information: one of our volunteers accidentally dripped paint on A-Rod’s sneaker! Talk about A-Rod being properly baptized as a true Blissful Bedrooms volunteer, lol).

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After a couple of hours of the Yankees players and Blissful Bedrooms volunteers working together, we all gathered back in the community room and the Yankees surprised us yet again, when they presented us with a check for $10,000,00! This was followed by interviews with the media and an intimate sit-down lunch with Said and his family and the Yankees players. Said was too nervous to eat the pizza they provided and he talked a mile a minute with Alex Rodriguez. He told A-Rod that he wanted him to teach him how to throw a ball and really wanted to see the locker room, dug out and meet the coach – Joe Girardi. It was so sweet to witness and it appears A-Rod was really listening because later that day the Yankees fulfilled every single one of those requests and more! 

This was not a hit and run visit by any means! The Yankees organization went out of their way to make this dream day last and last for Said, and even when they had to leave shortly after lunch, in order to prepare for their game that evening, it wasn’t goodbye, but rather see you later! Alex and Martha, along with Said and his family and some special friends, would be meeting them again in a few hours on the Yankee Stadium field where they would all be treated to the VIP experience of a lifetime.  The second half of Said’s Dream Day started on the field during the Yankees pre-game batting practice. Said got to reunite with the five players that he came to know at his home earlier, and also meet and get autographs from plenty of others. It was during this time that Alex used his photography skills to shoot portraits of Said and his family with the field as the backdrop, which are now displayed on the walls of his bedroom.

Later we were all led into the Legend’s dining room and treated to a five-star dinner experience. Following dinner, we were escorted back out to the field for a special ceremony in which the Yankees honored the charitable work of Blissful Bedrooms. As the fans were all seated and anticipating the beginning of the game, the mission of Blissful Bedrooms was introduced and a video of the Yankees day at Said’s apartment, taking part in his Blissful Bedroom makeover, was played on the Jumbatron. Then, Alex and I, and Said were brought on to the field and broadcast on the Jumbatron as we were presented with a Volunteer Service Award from the President of the United States of America, and prestigious gold medals were hung around our necks. It was an incredible moment of acknowledgement we won’t soon forget and I was caught off guard myself, having a similar experience as Said had earlier that day in his living room, when I was suddenly overcome with emotion and couldn’t hold back the tears. 

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Then, one of the most incredibly amazing moments of the whole day happened!! Said got to throw out the first pitch of the game in a brilliant and thoughtfully conceived, very unique and touching way which included everyone!! I was positioned on the pitcher’s mound, while Said was positioned close to the catcher’s mound where A-rod was in a crouching position, waiting to receive the ball from him. Lined up in a “chain” between Said and I were Alex and Said’s family members and special friends. I was given the baseball and passed it along to Alex, who passed it to the next person until it reached Said’s mom, who placed it in her son’s hand and helped to facilitate the throw. The determination on Said’s face at that moment was fierce. In that instance, he didn’t let his cerebral palsy diagnosis hold him back – he raised his arm higher than he ever has before, and he aimed the ball at A-Rod’s glove. It was obvious that he wanted to make his new hero proud of him! A-Rod had to maneuver a bit, but he caught the ball and it was clear that Said had inched his way into his heart by day’s end, as he gave him a genuine hug and a kiss on the head. Mom cried, as her face beamed with pride, and we all smiled from ear to ear as we floated off of the field with the footage of this celebrity moment forever etched in our hearts and memory. 

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Still, the excitement of the day wasn’t over! Said and his lucky entourage were escorted to their prime seats to watch the game and there waiting for them were 50 special Blissful Bedrooms community members, including past makeover recipients, who were all in an exhilarated mood, as they had watched every moment of what just ensued from their seats. It was then that the party started as Blissful Bedrooms volunteers and friends enjoyed each other’s company for the next nine innings. For many of the guests, it was their first time ever attending a Yankees game. The Yankees benevolence wasn’t only reserved for Said and his family, but was generously extended to every guest of Blissful Bedrooms, and they were each given a $20.00 food voucher so they too could feel the Yankee’s loving hospitality.  We knew this was the final stage in our long, glorious day with all of the surprises revealed and we were gleefully satiated. But, there was one more surprise in store for Said that we could never have imagined. After a winning game for the Yankees, an escort came to get Said and led him to the field to join the Yankees team for the traditional line to high-five the players. 

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For the cherry on top of a long, exciting and exhausting day, the Yankees sponsored a weekend hotel stay for Said and his parents at a luxurious hotel in Times Square, NYC, as well as a dinner on them during the weekend at the New York Yankees Steak House.

We could never fully express our gratitude to the Yankees for the royal way they treated Said and his family, and the Blissful Bedrooms community, during that special day of Hope Week on Friday, June 10, 2016. Never did we imagine almost seven years ago, when we unintentionally embarked on the journey that is Blissful Bedrooms, that this day of honor and respect was in store us. We are so incredibly thankful to the New York Yankees for independently recognizing the value of our heart-driven, grassroots organization for disabled youth, and for using their celebrity brand to officially endorse our charitable work. This is a big deal for a Mom & Pop charity such as ours!

However, as much as we reveled in the attention we were given by the Yankees, in our eyes, the ultimate champion is YOU! We know very well that we couldn’t have accomplished our 19th bedroom makeover, and/or arrived at this day without the loyal support of others, who back us behind the cameras, day in and day out. Thank YOU so very much for every way you empower us in all that we aspire to do for disabled youth! We look forward to earning your continued respect and support.

Please take a few moments to view the following video pieces which really capture touching parts of Said’s big day!

The first video below is of Joe Girardi’s pre-game press conference. Notice that the Yankees coach is wearing a Blissful Bedrooms t-shirt and starts off the press conference by talking at length about Blissful Bedrooms! Pretty darn awesome!! Just click on the picture to watch the video.

Joe Girardi shouts out Blissful Bedrooms during  the pre-game press conference

Joe Girardi shouts out Blissful Bedrooms during the pre-game press conference







Photo album of Said’s day with the Yankees





More photos of Said’s day with the Yankees

After our epic, long lasting Friday with the Yankees, the Blissful Bedrooms got right back to work bright and early on Saturday morning and come Sunday evening, they gave Said the ultimate gift they are best known for – a brand new bedroom designed just for him, and a community of friends to celebrate the beautiful, deserving, amazing young man he is!

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Photo Album of Said’s Reveal Party

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Said (Sigh-EEd) is a sparkling and charismatic 18-year-old who is an All American guy. He is a Bronx native and attends a special education high school a few blocks from his home. Said loves sports, including baseball and basketball. His favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees and his favorite basketball team is the Cavaliers. Said plays on a wheelchair basketball team at school and although his actual participation is very limited due to his physical impairments (i.e., he is unable to shoot the ball in the hoop), he takes great pride in belonging and contributing to his team – The Dragons – and enjoys the camaraderie of his peers and friends in wheelchairs. Said says he would like to play on a wheelchair baseball team but, as of yet, one is not available for him. Besides sports, he enjoys playing video games in his free time and listening to music. His musical taste ranges from Hip Hop to Rock and Roll. His favorite colors are blue and red and besides wanting a sports theme for his bedroom, he voiced a strong desire for a desk he can fully access with his wheelchair so that he can use a computer, make art and be productive. Said has a strong drive to help and contribute to society. As a matter of fact, prior to becoming a candidate for a bedroom makeover, he expressed his desire to help other disabled kids by being a volunteer on a Blissful Bedrooms makeover team.

Said was born with insurmountable challenges that become even more difficult as his body grows into that of a man. His teenager mom, Jennifer, knew something was not right about Said’s physical development when he was a baby, but because of her youth and inexperience wasn’t taken very seriously. However, she persisted in voicing her concerns to Said’s doctors and, at about 5 months of age, Said was given the formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy. While validating her suspicions, it devastated Jennifer and she fell into a depression. Being a teenage mother is daunting in and of itself, but to be given this enormous responsibility, at such a young age, was incomprehensible and shocking. However, Jennifer rose to the occasion and is an outstanding and devoted mother to Said, and has the support and backing of her incredible mom, Said’s beloved Nana, Yolanda, and his awesome Grandfather, Tony. They adore Said and when you meet him, it is obvious that he is very, very loved. Said is an only child and lives at home with his mom and his step-dad, Edwin, who has been a caring father figure to Said since he was very young. Unfortunately, Said’s biological father has never really been part of his life, occasionally dropping in and then disappearing, which is Said’s Achille’s heel and just the mere mention of his father can bring Said to tears, as he believes he is responsible for his father’s absence in his life because of his condition. Of course, his family always reassures him that it isn’t his fault, and it is his father’s great loss not to enjoy a relationship with his wonderful son. Knowing Said, we can certainly reinforce that truth, as he truly is a special young man with a gorgeous smile, a joyful heart and a curious and determined spirit. Said captivates everyone that knows him with his inquisitiveness, empathy and great communication skills. He has the ability to engage in conversation with just about anyone and make them feel heard and understood.

Introducing Said! from Blissful Bedrooms on Vimeo.


Said has spastic tetraplegia type cerebral palsy, which means he has spasticity and weakness of all of his limbs and trunk muscles. He has endured several surgeries in his life, including multiple hip surgeries for a dislocated hip and spinal fusion for advanced scoliosis. Said uses a motorized wheelchair in school and the community. He is unable to stand or sit unsupported and he requires a high level of assistance for all transfers and activities of daily living. Said has limited flexibility and strength in his arms and legs, however, with proper set-up, he is able to feed himself certain foods, use a laptop, manipulate his video game controls and cell phone, create art and more. This motivated young man certainly makes the most of what ability he does have! Like most individuals with severe disabilities, Said spends a great amount of time in his bedroom. When he comes home from school, he is transferred to his bed where he plays video games, talks on the phone and eats a snack. He is a typical teenager and he enjoys his private time in his bedroom. Our goal is to create a comfortable and functional man cave for Said, one in which he can enjoy maximum independence to do the things he loves – whether he is relaxing in bed, attending to his studies or practicing some athletic skills that will help his wheelchair basketball game and physical prowess.

We have some awesome surprises in store for Said! Although this beautiful young man is clearly loved by his family, we want to make Said feel like a shining star and a worthy member of society that deserves sincere admiration and attention. We do need your help! Like all of our 18 makeovers before, it takes a lot of people to pull off an act of love and compassion such as this. Won’t you please consider making a donation of any amount at all at the link below in order to contribute to Said’s dream bedroom! Thank you so very much for your interest in Said and the work of Blissful Bedrooms. Our ALL volunteer organization depends predominantly on grassroots donations and we absolutely would not be embarking on our 19th bedroom makeover if it weren’t for the support of others who also share a passion for compassion – specifically, those like YOU who cared enough to read Said’s story until the very end! We implore you, please don’t leave this page without pressing the donation button below and contributing any amount at all. It seriously cannot be too small to make a difference and every donation – small or large – is deeply appreciated and very much needed. People often think their modest donation can’t really mean much to the overall fundraising goal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Aside from the fact that lots of little donations add up quickly, the energy and momentum from so many people being involved in some way imbibes every makeover with a perceptible feeling of love and acceptance that the makeover recipient and his family feel deeply on a conscious and subconscious level. Even $5 adds to this phenomenon!

You can follow the progress of Said’s makeover by liking the Blissful Bedrooms Facebook page and we will keep you updated on what is promising to be one of our most special and exciting makeovers to date!
Support
Thank you to all of the amazing people who made this spectacular event possible! Whether you volunteered your time, donated money, or donated products and services, we are forever grateful and couldn't have done it without you.

Thank you to all of the beautiful volunteers – TEAM SAID - who dedicated their hearts, shared their talents, devoted countless hours to Said's happiness and went above and beyond to make his bedroom makeover and special weekend perfect!

VOLUNTEERS:
Avra Cohen
Emma Craig
Jordan Delzelll
Alex Gold-Dvoryadkin
Martha Gold-Dvoryadkin
Lexy Ho-Tai
Frank O'Leary
Chase Randell
Steve Rayboy
Mark Ressl
Adam Seim

















Thank you to all of the generous ORGANIZATIONS/ BUSINESSES and INDIVIDUALS - SAID'S ANGELS - who supported Ivey’s bedroom makeover by donating funds, services, food and/or materials. This makeover turned out amazing because of your help!

DONATIONS

Individuals

Brenda Allen
Jessica Amadeo
Lisa Baker
Anna Berman
Wendy Brownstein
Allison Burke
Ciretta Carroll
Emma Craig
Jose Cruz
Carin & Mark Denat
Brian Fendell (In honor of Melissa Moschitto)
Debbi Fendel (In honor of Melissa Moschitto)
Jeannie Figueroa
Lefkie Fradelos
Carol Frazier
Leigh Golterman
Hector Guerrero
Teresa Hamm
Pearl Ho Tai
Martin Kaminer
Jessica Larsen-Hossain
Frances Lim
Russell Mahmud
Samantha Maneggio
Secundina Martinez
Janet McNamee
Kim McPherson
Andrea Morino
Melissa Moschitto
Michael Nautowicz
Juan Ovalles
Brandon Rigoli
Janette Rivera
Jose Rivera
Aileen Salvante-Martin
Karn Santikul
Arlene Santos
Samantha Sossin
Joseph Sterling
Donna Stevens
Janette Verdejo
Jessica Williams


Companies/Organizations

The New York Yankees
Pr1mary Color
The Stephen Colbert Americone Dream Fund
Tekserve


Thank you to the businesses who have adopted Blissful Bedrooms donation boxes, and to their generous customers who contribute to the boxes. You helped us manifest Said’s dream bedroom!

Belaire Diner
Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
Coffee Pot
Double G. Pharmacy
Igloo Cafe
Natural Frontier Market
Omega Wines & Spirits
Rosario’s Italian Food Store
Stamatis
The Giving Tree Yoga Studio
If you are touched and inspired by what you've seen above, please help us to perform our next bedroom makeover by making a donation of any amount today. Our work is only possible because of your generous contributions and loyal support!