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Dying mother keeps promise to daughter with treehouse

By Keith McCord | Posted - May 12th, 2013 @ 10:28pm


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ST. GEORGE — This Mother's Day means a lot more to one Cheryl Heaton than most. It could very well be her last, and she has a promise to keep to her daughter. A single mother of five, Heaton is not afraid to put up a fight. Having battled cancer once before, she knows what it takes to win.

Though she had a clean bill of health not long ago, the cancer came back. This time, Heaton knew the battle was over.

"I had a really wonderful experience in the hospital where, instead of a year before I knew it was time to fight and beat it, that it was time to prepare my kids for the transitions that were going to happen," she said.

With two months left to live, Cheryl remembered a promise she had made her daughter when they first moved to St. George.

"I promised her that one of the things when we moved down here is that we'd build a tree house for her," said.

With time running out, family and friends took the reins, asking what they could do to help. For Cheryl, at the top of her list was building that tree house for Macy.

So Cheryl's father, Penn Smith, made a trip to Home Depot, telling them her story, and right away they were on board.

"(I) went to my management team to see if we could not just discount the product but donate the product so that a dream could be fulfilled," said employee Marty Peck.

It was a dream and promise that went way beyond daughter Macy's expectations, with a full-size treehouse that surrounds the tree.

"I thought it was just going to be a little bit smaller, but it's huge," she said. "It's like a mansion."

It's not just your run-of-the mill treehouse; it comes complete with a trap door, fireman's pole and slide.

"We wanted a playhouse that would withstand the test of time," Peck said.

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For Cheryl, time is running out and that makes the treehouse more than just a plaything or a promise — it's the symbol of a mother and her love.

I want her to know as she grows up that she could depend on me and that what I said was true," Cheryl said.

That symbol is already sinking in for Macy.

"It kind of reminds me of her because she kind of has this big imagination, kind of like the tree house," Macy said.

An account has been opened at Zions Bank for those who wish to make donations to help the family in the name of Cheryl Smith, Heaton's maiden name.

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