It’s been nearly five years since Amanda Bohannon felt the call to build a respite care vacation spot for families with severely ill and disabled children. Now, The Sweet Cocoon is poised to become reality.
On April 25, the Floyd County Commission will hold a public hearing on Bohannon’s request for a special use permit to develop a 19-acre tract at 1189 Cunningham Road as a secluded farm retreat for one or two families at a time.
“When you have a disabled and chronically ill child, there is no such thing as a family vacation,” said Bohannon, an ICU nurse at Redmond Regional Medical Center. “I want to give these families an opportunity to be outside and do things they’re not normally able to do.”
The idea for a retreat came to her in the months before the death of her daughter, Marlowe Treglown, in August 2012 at the age of 18. Marlowe was diagnosed at 4 with Sanfilippo syndrome, a progressive disease that put her in a wheelchair at 11 and slowly robbed her of the ability to communicate and swallow.
During that time, Bohannon was caring for her terminally ill child, raising another daughter and working to pay their bills. She founded The Sweet Cocoon, a nonprofit dedicated to Marlowe’s memory, and set about raising money to help other families going through the same struggles.
The acreage near Black’s Bluff Road and the bypass is the location they’ve been looking for, Bohannon told the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission last week — quiet and secluded yet close to emergency services.
“No family will ever be charged to stay at The Sweet Cocoon,” she added. “It will be run by volunteers.”
Architect Robert Noble has designed a log cabin-style house that will replace the existing block house. Plans call for a small in-ground pool, gardens, a playground and possibly a goldfish pond. A network of handicap-accessible trails also will be built.
“You should be able to push a child in a wheelchair anywhere on the property,” Bohannon said.
There also will be animals. An area will be set aside for therapy horses to be brought in, and there likely will be rabbits, miniature horses and other pets living at the farm retreat.
Families will be referred from children’s hospitals, the Division of Family and Children Services and various other sources.
“(T)hey will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy being a family, and for just a few days be able to temporarily forget the daily struggles they live with,” Bohannon wrote in a letter accompanying her application.
The planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the SUP. County commissioners will have the final say following the public hearing during their 6:30 p.m. meeting.
Meanwhile, Bohannon continues to raise money for her dream.
The fourth annual Aiming to Build Shooting Competition is set for April 22 at the Floyd County Wildlife Association property, 909 Holland Road. Entrance fees are $25 for the steel match and $50 for sporting clays. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
For more information, call Bohannon at 706-506-7437.