Dreams Come True of Jacksonville celebrates 30 years of fulfilling local children’s dreams…and many more to come
n 1984, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville was founded through the power of one special dream. The late Thomas R. McGehee, Chairman of Mac Papers, and his wife, Delia, met a 17-yearold boy who was battling Cystic Fibrosis. This young man, George Lee, loved golf! When McGehee learned this, he arranged for George to be paired with Fred Couples and play in the Pro-Am of the TPC. Following an exciting round of play, Couples gave the young man his driver. A year later, George lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis and his prized club was buried at his side. McGehee partnered with business leaders Hugh Jones, Chairman of thenBarnett Bank; Jay Stein and Jack Williams of Stein Mart; and the late Roy Baker, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Directors of University Medical Center. These gentlemen, with the help of McGehee’s godson, Dr. Paul Wharton, came together to develop Dreams Come True of Jacksonville, a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting the dreams of local children with life-threatening illnesses. This year Dreams Come True of Jacksonville celebrates 30 years of fulfilling the dreams of local children and their families. Dreams provide these wonderful children and their families with a momentary reprieve from the rigors of medical treatment often associated with life-threatening illnesses. While these precious children may be physically restricted, their dreams are endless, like Makenzie. For four-year-old Makenzie, every day is filled with joy and sunshine. You would never believe that since birth she has been battling Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect, which has caused various heart complications and procedures. “When Makenzie was born her blood oxygen level was only 70%. When she would cry her lips and face would turn blue because of the low oxygen levels. How do you stop a baby from crying? It was very scary!” stated Jessica, Makenzie’s mother. Makenzie had her first open heart surgery within 5 weeks of being born. What has followed has included numerous
procedures, along with several doctor and hospital visits. When Makenzie was referred to Dreams Come True of Jacksonville by Dr. Lacey at Wolfson Children’s Hospital she had a choice to make … what to do for her dream! One day while watching the television, Makenzie saw a Disney Cruise commercial, and fell in love with the thought of being on a “big boat” with all the Disney characters, especially the princesses. With her parents, Makenzie sailed on the Disney Dream cruise ship in August 2013. Aboard one of Disney’s largest ships, Makenzie enjoyed a majestic time at sea. Days included splashes in the AquaDuck, the first water coaster at sea, plus special dining experiences and interactions with Disney characters. Special stops included Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Accommodations included a deluxe stateroom with an oceanview, providing plenty of luxurious space for her and her family. “Makenzie’s Disney Cruise dream gave us a chance to forget about the obstacles she had and will endure. It gave us a chance to have a family vacation and experiences that would never have happened when the ‘extras’ in life are tied up due to medical costs. Seeing the smile on her face from morning to night is something we will always remember. We will forever be grateful,” stated Jessica. Makenzie’s story is just one of more
Makenzie is ready to set sail on her Disney Cruise Dream aboard the Disney Dream ship.
than 3,000 that fill the Dreams Come True office in Jacksonville’s Southpoint business park. With a dedicated staff of seven, every day is focused on the ability to transform what was once dreams of children into reality. For many children, their struggles also do not end after their dream, and for that reason Dreams Come True of Jacksonville not only grants the dreams of children, but provides support through a program called Special Times. Special Times provides the dream child and his or her family a time to momentarily forget the realities of life-
threatening illnesses. It may be dinner at a favorite restaurant, tickets to game, a relaxing evening at the movies or even a special holiday or birthday treat. Whatever the opportunity, Special Times reminds the children and their families that they are special and loved. On June 7, Dreams Come True came together with PRI Productions to host a fun-filled day for 30 dreamers and their families. PRI Productions transformed its Kings Avenue facility into an enchanted getaway, where dreamers were greeted by characters on the red carpet who escorted them to special rooms so they could transform into their favorite princesses and superheroes. The day was filled with music, games, magic, food and fun; and created smiles and memories for these young heroes who are battling life-threatening illnesses in our community. From fulfilling dreams to providing Special Times, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville has become a resource for families in need. The honor of never denying an eligible child a dream or having a waiting list is a goal that Dreams Come True of Jacksonville will continue to achieve each year because of the local community. It is only through private donations and generous individuals volunteering their time that Dreams Come True can continue to bring a ray of sunshine and hope to families who have been struck by the harsh realities of life-threatening illnesses.
San Jose Jose San
Published on Jun 13, 2014