Like the dude that John Denver sang about in “Rocky Mountain High,” Colin Carberry of Four Oaks came “home to a place he’d never been before.”
Except for five days, Colin, 14, has been at Duke Hospital since August, being treated for leukemia. His wish, as yours and mine would be, was to go home for Christmas, to take a break from the energy-zapping chemo treatments, to be a kid.
The generosity of neighbors, friends and strangers made Colin’s homecoming one he’s unlikely to forget.
You see, while in the hospital, Colin was asked by the Make-A-Wish Foundation what he wanted. Colin, Pat Moore told me, said, “I want a man cave like Mr. Moore’s.”
Mr. Moore is Benny Moore, Pat’s husband and a longtime member of the Wolfpack Club. He has a room in his house with all manner of N.C. State University paraphernalia. Colin wanted one, too.
“He loves everything N.C. State,” Pat Moore said. “I’ve known his parents and grandparents for many, many years, and he’s always been like that. ... Dereck Whittenburg has been a frequent visitor at the hospital, at least up until basketball season.”
Whittenburg, a former Wolfpack star who is now an assistant coach, “pushed to Colin, ‘Never give up,’ like Coach (Jim) Valvano told them,” Pat Moore said.
Make-A-Wish “wasn’t able to grant that wish” of a Wolfpack man cave, Moore said. “They don’t do anything on that scale.”
The people of Johnston County do, though. They did it on an even larger scale, building the kid not a room, but a freakin’ house.
Moore said a friend of hers went to the Johnston County Homebuilders Association for help. It poured in, as did the concrete for the man cave’s foundation.
On Monday of last week, they poured the concrete, Moore said.
“On Tuesday, they had the framing completed; on Wednesday, they did the electrical, heating, air and plumbing,” she said.
On Thursday and Friday, volunteer builders hung the wallboard and finished the insulation.
The 20- by 20-foot structure, right beside the family home on Echo Lane in Four Oaks, has red walls, black and red flooring, a black sofa and a full bath. It also has a big-screen television – one of those 55-inch bad boys. Without that, no man cave can be considered a man cave – it would just be a big old room.
At times, there were as many as 20 people working on the structure simultaneously for no payment. OK, that may not be exactly accurate: They received the payment that comes from knowing you’ve made an ailing kid’s holiday and life happier.
How difficult was it getting volunteers to help build a wish, especially at the holidays when many of us are so consumed with getting just the right gift for our own loved ones and dropping the right hint so we’ll in turn receive just the right gift?
It wasn’t difficult at all, Moore said. “All I did was call somebody and say, ‘I have a 14-year-old boy, and he has a wish. ... All I had to say was ‘Make-A-Wish.’ Builders donated everything.” Not one builder or supplier turned down a request for help, she said.
When I talked to Moore on Wednesday, hours before Colin was due to leave the hospital, she said, “He has no idea any of this is being done. His next round of chemo starts Monday, hopefully the last round.”
After that, then, Colin Carberry can come home to a place he’s already been before and root for the Pack in his own cave.