Their achievement will be a boon to parents in need of solutions to this particularly difficult problem.
While their ultimate goal is making kids dreams come true, there are several parents whose wishes are also becoming a reality thanks to the Sweet Dream Team. Susan Van Duyn was one such parent; her dream was to have a bed made for her wheelchair bound, six year old son, Sean, that would make her life a little easier by providing easy wheelchair access, and ensuring her son’s safety. Finding a bed that fit the bill was proving to be a major difficulty for Susan. Most that she saw were hospital type beds, sterile and foreboding. Susan wanted something playful and fun for Sean; although he cannot speak, he is stimulated by his environment and responds in reaction to it. Susan finally decided that a custom made set would be the only way to get just what she envisioned for her son.
The first custom bed company she dealt with made many false promises and after several months they ultimately did not produce the bed and stole her money to boot. Disheartened, and close to giving up her quest for the perfect bed, she happened across Sweet Dream while browsing the Internet; she was not sure that they could make one of the fun theme beds that she had seen on their site to accommodate her specific needs, but she gave them a call anyway. She explained to Joann Means her dilemma; she needed a bed for her disabled son that would allow easy wheelchair access, a clear view of his TV, extra storage for child care items, and, most importantly, would provide her son with safety, mental stimulation and comfort. She realized that this was quite a tall order.
What she discovered, however, was that Joann and Johnny Means were up to the challenge. Joann immediately began asking Susan all the right questions so that she could get a precise idea of her needs. Joann then consulted with her husband and the two sat down and brainstormed on how they could help meet the needs of this very special mother and son. Being parents themselves and having great empathy for their difficulties, John and Joann were determined to make just the right bed set for the Van Duyn family. John Means began drawing out designs based on the measurements provided. After several tries and much telephone and email communication with Susan, who lives in Florida, he finally came up with a buildable bedroom set that would meet both mother and child’s needs. He showed the designs to Susan and she was thrilled, she gave the nod and building began in John’s Philadelphia shop.
One month later, after many long hours of work, Sean’s bed was completed and unveiled (via emailed digital images); Susan and her husband were by the results. Susan, upon seeing the photos, exclaimed, "It's magnificent, I love it and my husband loves it too." The custom castle bed was not only beautiful to look at, it was full of fun. Most importantly it had multiple key features built-in that would let Susan and Sean rest easier.
The bed incorporates several clever devices, which are carefully camouflaged so as to not give the bed even the tiniest hint of a "hospital feel" while still providing key safety features. The first of these features is a lovely, wide front gate which swings open at wheelchair height to allow easy entry to the sleeping section of the bed. The gate then latches securely from the outside so that it will safely contain Sean while he is sleeping or resting; the gate is made from tough, see-thru acrylic and covered with an elegant dragon and lion motif. Another feature is the thick acrylic barriers at the foot and head of the sleeping area. These also keep Sean safe and also allows Susan to peek in on her son from any angle, it also gives visual access for Sean to watch TV if he wants to. The front of the castle towers have built-in, covered storage cabinets and cubby’s to stow essential items for Sean’s care.
As a finishing touch the bed was faux finished to perfection to match the existing faux design in Sean’s bedroom. This procedure took days to complete but the end result was, and is, complexly amazing. The stonework looks so real that King Arthur himself would find it to be a suitable place for napping.
John and Joann have kept in close contact with Susan over the several months since they first "met" via telephone. Joann in particular has formed a bond with this special mom. Joannn has said of her new friend "Susan is an inspiration and someone I deeply admire." The bed building duo were so satisfied by the experience of helping the Van Duyn's that they plan on continuing to develop new product designs that will make life easier and safer for individuals with special needs, as well as those who care for them.
In several days the Means family and the Van Duyn family will get to meet, face to face, for the very first time when the Means’s will drive from Philadelphia to Florida to install the bed in Sean’s room. The meeting of these two families promises to be a joyous one for all involved.