DENTON, Texas –– The terrible twos aren't so terrible inside the Perry home. They’re a gift.
"She's a little fighter," said Stephanie Perry, mother to 26-month-old Brielle, and 5-year-old Reese.
The two girls are non-stop. And for much of 2013, so was the bad news.
Brielle Perry was born with Down syndrome, and a heart defect. But, at 18-months-old, Stephanie and Ryan Perry discovered their youngest daughter had leukemia.
"April 5, I'll never forget it," Stephanie said.
Chemotherapy began almost immediately. It stole her pigtails and burned her face. Her family documented it all, posting videos of her fight online. That's how generous strangers found her.
Joshua Jones is a U.S. Marine based in Fort Worth. He and his wife, Erica, along with his ex wife who lives in Kentucky, have wanted to do something for ill children for a long time. They recently started an organization called Sunshine Spaces, Room for Hope.
They plan to makeover bedrooms belonging to sick kids.
"We're put on this planet for a certain amount of time, if we just take, take, take and we never give back, then we don't leave anything for other people to have," said Joshua. "Whether you're a marine, soldier, airman, or sailor, it's our job to give back too. Not just our job to serve our country. It's a job as fathers and mothers to do as well."
Erica added, "Everywhere we've been stationed we've always tried to give back a little. This has always been a dream of mine to start something that really makes a difference in the lives of people. And to teach our kids to look out instead of always looking in."
Brielle will be the first makeover and they decided Brielle's big sis Reese deserves one too.
Reese knows just what she wants: an underwater kingdom with mermaids and fairies.
"I want the walls to be bubbles and the bubbles to be silver," she said.
Brielle's room will include an enchanted wishing tree, which is designed by a company in Houston, which decorated the Rainforest Café restaurant chain.
"We are about 70 percent of the way to the goal," said Erica. "We like to have five dollar Fridays. If everybody gave five dollars on a Friday, by packing a lunch instead of buying it at the cafeteria, we'd meet our goal in a week.”
Stephanie and Ryan moved into their home about two months before Brielle's diagnosis. They say they still have much work left to do.
"This is gonna be so huge," she said.
Sunshine Spaces still needs money like Brielle still needs hope. The Perrys will find out next week if the chemo worked.
"You know the unknowns that caused us to be scared have turned out to be the best blessings in life," said Ryan.
They say they wouldn't trade the experience for anything, saying everything about Brielle has made them stronger.
"Cancer can't keep her down," said Stephanie.
It can't keep the family down either.