CNN Heroes

He quit his high-paying job to build beds for kids who sleep on the floor

Twin Falls, Idaho CNN  — 

A simple project to help a family in need stopped Luke Mickelson in his tracks.

CNN Hero Luke Mickelson

In 2012, he and his family were inspired to build and donate a bunk bed after learning there were local children who slept on the floor.

“This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest. And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bed was,” Mickelson said. “When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go.”

Shocked to discover how widespread this need was in his close-knit community, Mickelson founded Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers beds to children in need.

“It was such an eye-opener to me,” he recalled. “I sat there in silence thinking, ‘Is that really what’s going on?’”

Born and raised in Idaho, Mickelson, now 41, was a high school quarterback-turned-family-man. A churchgoer with a thriving career, he coached his kids’ sports teams and fished in the nearby river. But when he met children who were sleeping on the floor, his idyllic life changed course.

“I had no clue about what the need was,” Mickelson said. “There’s kids next door whose parents are struggling just to put food on the table, clothes on their back, a roof over their head. A bed was just a luxury.”

Using safety guidelines and his daughter’s bunk bed as a template, Mickelson started buying wood and supplies to build beds with his own money. He recruited friends and family members to help around the holidays.

As word spread, interest and involvement from his and other communities surged – along with Mickelson’s bunk bed output.