KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A treehouse is every child's dream. But to the Faulkenberry children, this one means so much more.
Their dad, Reid Faulkenberry, passed away last summer unexpectedly from a heart attack. He had dreamed of building a treehouse for his 5 children, but never got to do it.
Now, a group of locals is making his dream come true. They are building that treehouse for free, funded solely by donations.
It all began just a few months after Reid passed away. His eldest daughter, 16-year-old Sydney, asked her friend's dad to build their family a swing.
Gregor Smee, an architect and president of Knoxville-based Smee + Busby Architects, was happy to oblige.
"Put the swing up and the children were so excited about the swing," Smee said. "I asked the mother, Jana, what else can I do for the kids? She said, 'Well my husband had always wanted to build a treehouse but he never got to it."
It was at that moment that the idea sparked in Smee's mind.
"Treehouse! We would love to do a treehouse," Smee exclaimed. "We're architects! So we began dreaming about what we could do."
They immediately started charting out what would become "The Faulkenberry Tree Lofts."
"We decided we would do a platform for each child," Smee said. "Five platforms. One for each child. And when we looked at the tree, no tree could hold all 5 platforms."
The treehouse spans two massive trees, and will be connected by a 40-foot long suspension bridge. They have received a heap of community support, from donations to volunteers.
Sydney Faulkenberry said she can't believe what she's seeing spring up in her own backyard, all based on her dad's dream.
"He just wanted us to have somewhere we could get away and have some fun," Faulkenberry said. "Just building it was going be a fun process. Or it was supposed to be."
But for Sydney and her siblings, it's not about the wood and the nails.
"We know that they really do care about us," she said.
Each piece of timber, each screw holding up this structure, is one step closer to achieving her dad's goal.
"Oh, my dad would be all over it. He'd be really excited," Faulkenberry said.
The date of completion can't come fast enough.
"It'll be really cool when you drop the scaffolding and just the treehouse is left.," Smee said. "It'll be really exciting to see."
Volunteers have worked every Saturday for the last three weeks. They hope to finish the treehouse in the next month. Smee said they have received nearly $2,000 in donations.
To see photos of the progress, donate or volunteer, just head to http://www.smeebusby.com/ and click on the tab that says "Contribute to Faulkenberry Tree Lofts" on the left side of the screen.
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