You’ve probably seen a few home makeover shows on television. How life-changing they can be, and how when the bus drives away and reveals a new home, there’s not a dry eye to be found.
Holly Hutson Ranney gets to make those magical moments happen for children in need of something special. And there’s nothing else she’d rather do.
Pictured above: Holly Ranney (left) and her husband Peter (second from left) sit with the family of Katie Adams (front right), a young girl with cancer who had a room makeover completed by the Ranneys.
Ranney is a 2002 alumna of High Point University. A native of Denton, Maryland, she now lives in Atlanta and runs Sunshine on a Ranney Day (SOARD), a non-profit that does dream room and home makeovers for children with disabilities or long-term illnesses.
She first discovered her passion for interior design while studying at HPU.
“When I decided to go to HPU, I did not really know what I wanted to major in or pursue,” Ranney says. “I used to work at the High Point Market every year during college. As I was surrounded by design classes and furniture companies, I realized that was what I wanted to do. This helped open many doors for me with networks and connections.”
Through one of those connections, Ranney landed her first corporate job with Rooms To Go before she graduated. There, she worked in product development for RTG’s furniture lines for children. She continued to work at the company’s Atlanta headquarters for 12 years until she and her husband, Peter, founded SOARD in 2012.
In a few years, the Ranneys have completed nearly 40 room makeovers for children. Sometimes, the makeovers grant children wheelchair access to parts of their home they couldn’t get to before. Other times, new furniture and a vibrant bedroom encourages them to keep going.
For instance, there’s Raynel, a young boy with Cerebral Palsy who can now wheel around with ease in his video game-themed bedroom. A princess room – designed by TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” co-stars Lori and Monte – brings joy to Peyton, a little girl with Leukemia.
Then there’s Tripp. Tripp suffered a traumatic brain injury after getting hit by a tree limb that fell on him at his daycare during Hurricane Sandy. Ranney and her team renovated his entire home. It was SOARD’s largest makeover to date – $300,000 in renovations came to fruition while 1.6 million people watched the reveal online through a live stream.
Changed lives. Brightened spirits. New beginnings.
That’s why Ranney does it.
“My favorite thing about SOARD is seeing the impact of the makeovers on the children and families,” Ranney says. “A lot of times when we meet the family they are at a very low point in life… tired, stressed and feeling like they are out of resources. We help make their lives easier inside their home and help give them a huge support system. On the reveal day we invite tons of their family, friends, community, donors and partners to help them celebrate a new beginning and hope. It’s an amazing feeling seeing the excitement and emotion of the family.”
A Firm Foundation
Running SOARD often requires Ranney and her team to work under tight timelines. But her time at HPU helped teach her the value of perseverance.
While studying interior design and home furnishings at HPU, Ranney had a part time job, an internship, and took many classes each semester. She not only learned the importance of hard work, but also found a valuable faculty mentor in the process: Dr. Richard Bennington, a home furnishings professor who has taught at HPU for 40 years.
“It’s amazing how many people know him and were taught by him,” Ranney says of Bennington. “In fact, my boss at RTG graduated from HPU and had Dr. Bennington. Dr. Bennington was always available to answer any questions and guide me on the path that I wanted to take.”
Her advice to current students is to be passionate, confident and driven about what you’re working for.
“You have to work hard to be successful,” she says. “Things will not be handed to you. If you work hard, you will stand out and rise up in your career. And always keep good relationships with people. Having a good attitude, working hard and making smart decisions will get you very far ahead.”
To learn more about SOARD and to make a charitable donation, visit www.sunshineonaranneyday.com/donate.