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Juliana Urbach, 3, stands possessively on the front porch of her new playhouse. The town of Clifton girl was diagnosed at 14 months with Neurblastoma, a form of childhood cancer. Her family worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Juliana’s wish for a “purple house” was fulfilled by commercial and industrial builder Ross & Associates of River Falls. (Submitted photo)

Her purple dream house came true

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life Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Juliana Urbach has a home-away-from home that’s all hers. And it’s right in her backyard.

“She wakes up and first thing in the morning, still in her pajamas, runs out to play in her house,” says Juliana’s mother, Jessica. “We haven’t put furniture in there yet, just some foam on the floor and a beanbag chair.

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“The playhouse is amazing. It is something that she will enjoy today and every day for many, many years to come.

“I can see her and her siblings playing, having sleepovers and a quiet hangout well into their teen years.”

Jessica said that as a baby, Juliana had seizures and other medical problems. Later she had surgery for a cancerous tumor.

The family was eventually put in touch with Make-A-Wish. The national nonprofit organization tries to grant joyful wishes to children with a life-threatening medical condition.

Last spring two “wish-granters” came to the Urbach house in the town of Clifton.

When they did, Jessica said her three-year-old daughter had a specific wish: A purple playhouse.

“Purple is her favorite color, it has been for a long time,” Jessica said. “She wants everything to be purple and wishes our house was purple.”

After the visit and interview, Juliana knew her house was coming -- someday.

“Before the date was set, she kept asking when the wish ladies would bring her house,” Jessica said. “She asked us if she could still live in our house until hers was ready.”

Juliana’s dream wish was brought to reality on July 8 by Dan Ross, president/owner of Ross & Associates of River Falls, and one of his construction crews.

When Ross was first contacted and told about Juliana’s age, he reflected on his three lovely young granddaughters -- one the same age as Juliana. That made it easy to say yes to the little girl’s wish project.

The aim was not only to build the playhouse but devise a surprise element. The best way was to build onsite with the Urbach family away for the day.

That’s just what Ross & Associates and his voluntary work crew did.

“Dan Webb, a journeyman carpenter, said he couldn’t remember ever building a house in one day after 35 years in construction,” Ross said. “But considering it was a playhouse for Juliana, the guys had eight hours to get it done and set the stage for the big surprise.”

Said Jessica: “We left the house early and went to breakfast, swimming lessons and to Grandma’s to wait out the afternoon. They had no idea that Monday (July 8) was the day, so for kiddos who are not morning people, they were not happy to be up and out of the house so early. They wondered what we were doing.”

The 12 by 12 foot house with its gated front porch stands about seven feet tall at the ridge. Even mom and dad can walk inside.

Ross’s work crew included three carpenters and two laborers. A decorator also came to do the purple exterior painting. Ross laughed about his role -- superviser.

They all waited when the Urbach family returned home that afternoon before 4 p.m. and saw what was going on in the back yard.

“The smile on Juliana’s face was so broad,” Ross said. “I wanted our guys to see that. That’s why we did this, that was our reward.”

Jessica agreed about her daughter’s smile: “She is very quiet so she just smiled an amazing smile, and when I put her down, she ran in the house.”

Jessica and her husband Jason have three other children besides Juliana: Jonathan, 15; Jacob, 8; and Jenavieve, 6.

Juliana will start four-year-old kindergarten this fall. She still takes medications and has six-month checkups and scans with her oncologist. These will continue until age 6.

Whether intentional or not, Jessica said that the Ross work crew picked a shade of purple paint called “Brave Purple.”

“Juliana had picked out a very dark, bold purple and we gave Dan and his team the OK to pick something a little more subtle,” she said. “The shade is just perfect and the name brings tears to my eyes. Juliana knows that she is very brave, and that is why she was able to make a special wish.”

Mom says her daughter not only has a playhouse but an heirloom.

“When she is grown it is something that she can hopefully pass on to her kids.”

Editor’s note: At the end of June, Jessica said a large lump was found on her son’s Jacob’s arm. She said that, thankfully, it was found to be a benign bone tumor. It doesn’t bother him now so surgery is delayed until it does or he grows more so the tumor can move away from the growth plate.

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Phil Pfuehler
Phil Pfuehler has been editor of the River Falls Journal since 1991.
(715) 426-1050
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