RACINE — As he recounts what could best be described as an unforgettable experience, fourth-grader Taryus Brooks lights up as if it just happened.
But it didn’t.
One year ago today, volunteers — including some of Taryus’ classmates — pitched in and treated him to an overhauled bedroom, complete with all of his favorite accessories. A pizza party followed.
Taryus, who was born with a form of spina bifida, was treated last year to the new bedroom and party through the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
The smile from that momentous day continues to radiate from Taryus’ face, his mom, Samantha Cornella, said in an interview Friday at Giese Elementary School, 5120 Byrd Ave.
“He’s really come a long way,” Cornella said. “He’s made so many strides, and I’m so happy and excited for him.”
Next month, Taryus will celebrate his 10th birthday. He has undergone the same number of surgeries — including two immediately after birth — to address some of the critical issues linked to the congenital condition.
Giese Principal Tangella King held an all-school assembly Friday in honor of Taryus, his influence throughout the building and the one-year anniversary of the big Make-a-Wish day.
“Today is a very special day,” King said as she discussed the inspiration Taryus has spread through the school in his various acts of perseverance.
Replicating what his predecessor did a year ago, Mayor Cory Mason was on hand at the assembly, proclaiming Friday “Taryus Brooks Day.” A changeable announcement sign near Giese’s front entrance made the same proclamation.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Mason said. His refreshed proclamation incorporated some of the same themes then interim Mayor Dennis Wiser touched on in last year’s document.
Speaking to the outpouring of love and support Giese staff and students have shown Taryus throughout his time at the school, Mason said, “It’s a pretty big deal.”
A very practical lad
In keeping with its mission, Make-a-Wish grants assorted grand-scale excursions or experiences to children battling a range of conditions.
Taryus initially considered Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and staying at the Nickelodeon Resort as his “wish.” But he and his family are glad he opted for the room redo instead since it is something he can experience day in and out.
“I felt really good,” Taryus said when asked what his initial reaction was on Oct. 13, 2017, as he was shown the new bedroom, which had a number of fun technological items added into the mix.
One of Taryus’ favorite items in the bedroom is a smart TV. “I like it because you can watch You Tube on it,” he said.
Although his interests are evolving as he inches toward the double-digits, age-wise, Taryus said he still holds a fondness for the Power Rangers, which were a theme throughout last year’s party.
“They’re just awesome,” Taryus said of the cartoon characters. “They do some amazing things.”
From Cornella’s vantage point, the amazing hero in the family is Taryus. She said she believes he is destined for greatness and has the ability to make an even greater impact than the one he is having at the moment.
“He’s a funny kid,” Cornella said. “He just makes everyone laugh.”
“He’s really come a long way. He’s made so many strides, and I’m so happy and excited for him.” Samantha Cornella, mother of Taryus Brooks