Ross family brings the screams for a good cause

Story by Jordan Bickham, video by Barret Huie

With 250 hours put into the house, Jeannette and Roy Ross of Coppell have worked hard on their ninth and final haunted house for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  With the house as elaborate as it is now, its difficult to believe it began nine years ago with a simple fog machine.

“Well my son with his allowance wanted to buy us a fog machine, and we wondered ‘a fog machine?’  We went to the store, he had his allowance and we looked at how much they cost.  He said ‘Dad, I got to have this $100 one.’  It was a big waste in our minds at the time, but he brought it home and set it up,” Roy said.

To get into the Halloween spirit, he would hide and squirt the children as they came to the door for treats.

“When the kids came up to the door, no one could see what was going on and he would hide in the corner, push the button and it would squirt fog at them,” Roy said.

After seeing the children’s reactions to the surprise, they realized that they really enjoyed the fun of it, and from that moment, they were hooked.

This small idea grew over the years to become a major project that has raised a total of $55,000 for Make-A-Wish and has funded 10 wishes in the past nine years.

“We’ve bought ponies, we’ve bought playhouses, we’ve gone on shopping sprees, we’ve gone to Disneyland, we’ve gone to Alaska and we’ve gone to New York.  Really just a lot of neat things that kids want to do and we do everything we can to make it happen,” Roy said.

While there have been unique, difficult wishes to grant in years past, this year is definitely different than any other year they have raised money for.

“The girl we have adopted, her dream is to go to Australia to see the kangaroos and koala bears in their natural habitat.  And, that’s kind of a wish of my own,” Roy said. “I would love to go to Australia.  But, we hope that we can get her there and we’re going to work real hard to get the donations we need to make it all happen.”

In years past, they have always leaned towards helping younger girls to make their dreams come true and to for themselves to find closure from an experience of their own.

“We lost a little girl when she was 4 months old.  Our son is very important to us, when he decided he wanted to do the fog machine and we had another friend who had a very ill child,” Jeannette said.

After seeing their friend’s child suffer, they decided to donate the money from their first haunted house, about $1200 to her.  This sparked the decision to donate the money from future haunted houses to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in order to help other children and give them hope.

“It just feels like we can give them something back to enjoy because some of the kids survive, some of them don’t, and they go through a lot,” Jeannette said.  “We know what we went through, but it was a long time ago.  We’ve turned it around to help others, so they can feel a sense of support, enjoyment.”

With their own experience close to their hearts, the Rosses know what it feels like to be a parent wanting their child’s wish to come true. That is why they turned to Make-A-Wish, to find closure and help many children find joy.

“We feel an inner peace, so it’s been a great cause.  We’ve made some amazing friends through this, and we feel really blessed,” Jeannette said. “Our son was the one who really got us going with this with the fog machine.  Then we changed it and got involved with Children’s, and that was closure for us,”

This haunted house tradition has not only affected 10 girls, but it has affected hundreds of people in Coppell who have donated to the cause every year.

“Tonight, a lot of the kids will have brought money they had saved up all year to put in that donation,” Jeannette said. “They’ll come five times and make sure to put $5 in there or a dollar.  So they really are involved.  They know what it means to give back.”

Even teenagers around the city, such as sophmore Claire Brown, have enjoyed experiencing the haunted house.

“I think it’s a great event and I had an awesome time in the house this year.  Its sad that this is their last haunted house, but they’ve worked so hard and done an amazing job,” Brown said.

Brown has also noticed that the haunted house attracts a wide variety of visitors that enjoy the haunted house, but still have a great time helping out.

“The haunted house has influenced people all around Coppell by getting everyone involved in helping out others in a fun, unique, easy way,” Brown said.

Although their final haunted house has come to a close and a nine-year tradition is ending, the Rosses still plan to do everything they can to support Make-A-Wish, with or without a haunted house.

“I think we’ll always be involved in Make a Wish in some capacity, there’s no doubt,” Roy said.