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Camoflauge With Some Sparkle and a Tutu

Check out this post from Danielle Froning, a new member of our Dream Gala planning committee!

Photo by Themba Imagery

Photo by Themba Imagery

“What do I wear?” was the first question I asked when I was told we were attending a ‘Gala’. Never having been to a gala before, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know at the time how little my outfit would matter in the grand scheme of things. I had never heard of the Dream On 3 organization before, so I took to google and spent time looking through their website and was instantly intrigued. Sick children naturally hold a soft spot for me, and being an avid sports fan myself, the idea of sports themed dreams for these special people was brilliant.

The Inaugural Dream On 3 Gala was held at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte. We checked in and immediately hit the red carpet for some photo ops before walking through the overwhelming display of Silent Auction items. It was inspiring to see how many valuable items had been donated and spoke to the confidence people had in the organization. Items ranging from a signed Steve Smith picture (which we happen to be the proud owners of!) to an Auburn Football signed by Cam Newton (War Eagle!) to a signed Derek Jeter Baseball. The silent auction was such a hit that they had to ask everyone to venture to the ballroom for dinner a second time so dinner could be served.

Inaugural Dream Gala Silent Auction Photo by Themba Imagery

Inaugural Dream Gala Silent Auction                                               Photo by Themba Imagery

Throughout the cocktail hour I noticed several younger attendees whom I assumed were just out for an evening with the family. Before heading to the ballroom for dinner, I popped in the restroom where I met Dream Kid Angel Thompson. She was gleaming ear-to-ear with excitement of being at such an event. While waiting on my friend to finish up, Angel told me she loved my dress. Her reassurance on my dress was enough for me! Being a hunting enthusiast, Angel’s dress was camouflage print with some sparkle and a tutu – so, I obviously assured her I loved hers as well.

Dream Kid Angel at our Inaugural Dream Gala Photo by Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Angel at our Inaugural Dream Gala
Photo by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

During dinner we were introduced to the Dream Kids with videos of their story. After each video the Dream Kid and their family took the stage to show their immense appreciation for everything Dream On 3 has and is doing. And each of one of the Kids was presented with a gift that somehow fit ‘their dream’.

Dream Kid Nicholas Batley Takes the Stage! Photo by: Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Nicholas Batley Takes the Stage! Photo by: Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Inaugural Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Inaugural Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

And then there was the final Dream Kid, Nicholas Thornton. The minute Nicholas’ video started, I was in tears because I knew this was one Dream Kid we weren’t going to meet that night. Nicholas passed away a month shy of living out his Dream Experience and that truly broke my heart. I was thankful for the amazing wait staff that had plenty of tissues on hand.

Olympian Lauren Perdue & DO3 co-founder Elizabeth announce the Nicholas Thornton Scholarship Fund

Olympian Lauren Perdue & DO3 co-founder Elizabeth announce the Nicholas Thornton Scholarship Fund. Photo by Themba Imagery

It was then and there, at dinner in the ballroom of the Dream Gala, that I decided I wanted to help in any way I could. I immediately reached out to Elizabeth Lindsey and offered my time to any of their numerous projects. The first task she assigned me too was helping plan the 2015 Dream Gala and I hope to help make it even bigger and better!

So, if you were there at the inaugural Dream Gala, we look forward to seeing you again, and if you missed it, I hope I’ve helped you realize what a magical night it is and look forward to seeing you in January!

-Danielle

SAVE THE DATE!

Our 2nd Annual Dream Gala will be January 24th at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

We can’t wait to see you there!

Remembering Nicholas Thornton

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About a month ago, I remember meeting a young man that stole my heart in about 10 seconds. Elizabeth and I have become regulars at the hospitals but that day we were there to meet our newest Dream Kid and let him know that we were going to make his sports dream come true. We took the elevator up to the 11th floor and then made our way through the halls to the room where we were to meet the family. We walked through one door and were asked to wait while the air stabilized before opening the door to the next room. We washed our hands and put a mask on our face and then made our way into his room.

There he was…Nicholas Thornton (age 11). We quickly introduced ourselves to mom and dad and then shifted our attention to this young man smiling at us from his hospital bed. I wanted so much to take off my mask so that he could see me smiling back, but I followed the nurse’s instructions and left it on. We could tell that even though Nicholas had never met us, he was excited that we were there! My heart felt very heavy as I looked at this young man lying in front of me holding tightly to his stuffed frog. He had an IV in his arm and his breathing seemed to be a bit erratic. His hair had been shaved and a small section of his skull on the right side had been removed to alleviate the swelling on his brain. You could tell that Nicholas didn’t have full mobility on his left side and behind that gleaming smile you could tell that he seemed a bit tired. Despite the obvious answers from our surroundings, I stepped up to the side of the bed and said “Hey Nicholas, how are you doing?” Nicholas raised his hand to give me the thumbs up sign and then said the words that have been echoing in my head ever since,

“I’m doing great and can’t get much better!”

In January of 2013, Nicholas’s parents noticed the bruises developing on his body. At the doctor’s office they found that his blood counts were off and he was admitted to the hospital. After about a month of running tests and hospital visits, Nicholas learned that he had Aplastic Anemia (an autoimmune disease that attacks platelets, white and red blood cells). He would need to start treatments immediately while they looked for a potential bone marrow donor.

On February 25th 2013, Nicholas suffered a devastating brain hemorrhage that would leave him without the use of his left side. Another brain hemorrhage followed about one month later. The next several months were extremely difficult as Nicholas worked to learn to breathe, speak, and move all over again. In September, Nicholas received a bone marrow transplant from the closest match they could find…his father. Nicholas’s father was not an exact match but the doctors felt that he was close enough to see if his body would accept it. The transplant seemed to work and Nicholas was able to go home in December for the first time in nearly a year.
In January of this year, Nicholas was admitted to Levine Children’s Hospital because of complications with his lungs. Doctors worked hard to determine what was causing the lungs to deteriorate but despite all efforts they could not get them functioning properly. At approximately 3:40 yesterday (Friday, February 21st) Nicholas went to be with The Lord.

I knew that this was a part of what we signed up for when we started Dream On 3, but I now know that I was not prepared for it. We’ve had several wonderful moments of watching dreams come true, but this is the first time that we have experienced the loss of one of our Dream Kids. Nicholas’s sports dream was to watch the Olympic swimmers training in Charlotte. When we talked to Nicholas about his dream he told us that although he did not swim, he had taken a very strong interest in the sport and the athletes during the 2012 Olympics. Thanks to the wonderful support of SwimMAC Carolina, Nicholas’s dream was set to take place in May. This was to allow him a few months to get his blood counts up & become strong enough to be able to travel and enjoy the experience.

Nicholas Thornton was an amazing boy with an old soul. Listening to the stories of those close to him, he never let his condition get him down. This disease may have ultimately taken his body, but it never stood a chance against his contagious positive attitude and his innocence. From the first 10 seconds in that room, I knew that there was something special about this kid! Even through the chemo, surgeries, and rehabilitation Nicholas continued to put the needs of others above his own. You just don’t see that level of kindness and gratefulness in kids these days (including my own). When Elizabeth noticed his stuffed animal and asked Nicholas if he liked frogs, Nicholas told her that he liked frogs because of the acronym that he had learned. (F.R.O.G. – Forever Relying On God)

My heart is broken for this amazing family. I wish so much that we could have made his dream come true before his time was up. But that’s not what Nicholas would have wanted for us to spend our time thinking about. Nicholas would have much rather those that knew him spend time thinking about the things that he was able to do and the fun memories that were made. When Nicholas was admitted to the hospital this last time, he looked at his mom and said, “Mom you know, I’m thankful for my life. I’m happy with my life.” Nicholas Thornton will always hold a special place in our hearts. May we all find peace knowing that today he is smiling at us with his thumb up and saying …

”I’m doing great and can’t get ANY better!”

-Brandon Lindsey, Founder of Dream On 3

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Not Just A Day Dream

The following is a post from James Metsger, Lead Pastor at Renaissance Bible Church. James currently serves as Chairman on our Board of Directors at Dream On 3. Thank you James!

Not Just A Day Dream 

We love events. “Circle your calendar!” “The big game is on at 4!” “The concert starts at 8.” “The show begins at 6.” Events have a designated starting time. For the most part, we know when they end. They are clearly defined and measurable. We get excited about big events. We should. Events make for great memories. You remember the concert your drove across country for in college. You remember the game you snuck into as a kid. You remember the first date, graduation, or wedding day. Events are memorable, but they are also momentary. Eventually the music stops. Soon you go from passing classes to paying for classes. The wedding party is over and the hard work of marriage beings. What I’ve grown to love about Dream on 3 is that it’s not just a day dream.

 Dream on 3 makes dreams come true for children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, or life-altering conditions by creating experiences of joy and magic through the world of sports. They “do” the event and they do it well! Yankee Stadium? Yes! Charlotte Motor Speedway? Start your engines! Miami Heat? They’ve experienced the Heat wave! What’s not to love about an event that brings joy to the heart of a child and his or her family? There’s nothing like seeing inexpressible joy on a child’s face when their dream comes true. I love serving with a great team of high caliber people. I love sports. I can’t play them, at least not well, but I love them. I love the perseverance and the passion of the founders of a great organization. I love the hoopla and excitement of the big day. I love seeing pictures and watching a video that captures the day forever. I love the opportunities they provide for kids that often don’t qualify for other wish granting organizations. But what I love the most is that when a family wakes up from their dream, Dream on 3 is still there. 

I love the event, but Dream on 3 is about more than the event. They are about more than making a day, they are about making a difference. Dream on 3 is about a process. It’s a process of finding a child whose life has been altered by an unwanted and uninvited guest. It’s a process of understanding the challenges a family faces. It’s the process of figuring out how to serve a family when they balloons float away, the confetti is swept away, and the team walks away.

What I love about this organization are the things no one else will ever see. I love hearing about the phone calls that come from grateful parents months after the event has ended. I love knowing that a mom can call Elizabeth, the Director of Operations and Programming, and tell her she had a rough day. I love that Brandon, the Founder and Executive Director, can attend a little league game where the only cameras aren’t from the press, but from the parents. I love that the ones leading the organization don’t just help Dreams come true, but they are there when the dream events are over and the process of life continues.

-James Metsger, Renaissance Bible Church  

Board of Directors Chairman for Dream On 3

James Metsger

 

Don’t forget to purchase your tickets for our upcoming Dream Gala on March 29th! 

PRESS RELEASE- Local Child with Severe Chronic Asthma says… “Bring on the Heat!”

PRESS RELEASE:

Local Child with Severe Chronic Asthma says… “Bring on the Heat!”

Dream On 3 Helps Concord Boy Live Out Sports Dream In Miami

(Charlotte, NC) January 31, 2014 – As Concord residents bundle up to face a chilly Monday morning, one local child will be saying… “Bring on the Heat!” Zachyus Bowers is an 11-year old Concord resident who lives with severe chronic asthma. On February 3, Charlotte’s very own non-profit wish granting organization, Dream On 3, will give Zachyus the opportunity to live out his sports dream in sunny Miami, FL.

Zachyus is a patient at Carolinas Healthcare System’s Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, located on the campus of CMC-NorthEast. He loves the game of basketball and is a huge fan of the reigning NBA national champions, the Miami Heat. When asked by Dream On 3 what his sports dream was, Zachyus shared … “I want to be a basketball player in the NBA so that I can have the chance to give back to others and be a good role model, like Dwyane Wade.” Dream On 3 will give Zachyus an experience of a lifetime and show him that despite the challenges of his illness, his dreams can come true!

In conjunction with Cabarrus Charter Academy and the staff at Carolinas Healthcare System’s Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, an exciting sendoff has been planned for the morning of his Dream Experience. At approximately 8:00 am on February 3rd, Zachyus’s friends, family, doctors and teachers will gather to help whisk him off to Miami in VIP fashion.

Due to the severity of his condition, Zachyus requires an inhaler & nebulizer present with him at all times. He must carry several medications to treat his symptoms and schedule routine visits with his pulmonologist. Children with severe chronic asthma experience symptoms continuously. Episodes of wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath are frequent and often require emergency treatment or even hospitalization. Zachyus has been hospitalized numerous times and is limited to only short periods of physical activity.

Dream On 3 (DO3) was founded in 2012 to support children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, and life-altering conditions. The goal is to unite kids’ passion for sports with an unforgettable Dream Experience. DO3 is one of only a few wish-granting organizations to extendbenefits to children with chronic illnesses, such as severe chronic asthma.

They have received overwhelming support from the local healthcare community, and other national organizations for their attention to this group of children.

“Dream On 3 is amazing! Our team at Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital has thoroughly enjoyed working alongside this outstanding group.” ~ Lisa Webster, BS, CCLS (Manager, Child Life – Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital)

“Every child should strive for a life without limits and we are grateful for Dream On 3 helping Zachyus take another step in that direction.” ~William McLin (President and CEO Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America).

For more information about Dream On 3, Zachyus Bowers, or to attend the sendoff on February 3rd, please contact Elizabeth Lindsey at 704-301-5217 or email info@dreamon3.org.

Dream On 3 Mission Statement:

“Making dreams come true for children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, or life-altering conditions by creating experiences of joy and magic through the world of sports” 

You’re Invited! Join us at our Dream Gala

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Dream On 3 Dream Gala Information

Dream On…Dream Big

“Dream on, Dream on, Dream on…dream until your dreams come true.”

~ Steven Tyler, Aerosmith
A note from DO3 Co-Founder, Elizabeth Lindsey

WOW…what a year 2013 has been for Dream On 3! But trust me, we’re just getting started. Get ready 2014, we’re going to Dream On! We’re dreaming up some amazing moments for our Dream Kids and we’re excited about growing our Dream Team. We can’t wait to work more closely with our healthcare partners. We are inspired to grow our community partnerships & resources in order to serve more children…children who for 1 day can see their dream become a reality and feel like rock stars!

Let me start by saying “Thank you!” Thank you to our Dream Kids & their families who have dared to dream and have taught us to do the same. To our hospital partners who have embraced our cause and welcomed us into their facilities with open arms. To the business community, the athletes and leaders who have supported the mission of Dream On 3. To a group of faithful volunteers who have given of their time, resources & many talents to help see the vision of DO3 come to life. What a team we make!

So what’s in store for 2014? More Dream Kids? More magic moments? More sports celebrities? Bigger Dreams? Yes, yes and YES! Because of your generous giving we are already planning for more Dream Experiences in 2014. We had 5 Dream Kids in 2013 and plan to double that in 2014 with 10 Dream Experiences! We will be working with more athletes & sports teams locally & nationally. We will also continue to grow our partnerships with our local healthcare organizations and business community sponsors. We are planning our FIRST annual Dream Gala for Saturday, March 29 at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. You don’t want to miss out! We will have celebrity guests in attendance, a silent auction, dinner, dancing and most importantly…our Dream Kids. And for our online friends & followers, we’ve got some fun things in store for you too! 2014 is going to be one to remember, so stay tuned!

By now you should know that for us at Dream On 3, it’s all about the kids. They get to run the ball. They get to lead the pack. We want them to know that they are the true inspiration and they are the champions. And even if for only this 1 day, we want them to feel no pain. No cancer. No disease. No feeling excluded. No treatments. No tests. No loneliness. No worries. We want them to just be kids who can laugh, have fun, live free, and know what it’s like to chase a dream.

Are you ready to “Dream On” with us in 2014? Get ready Dream Team…together we’re going to make a BIG difference in the lives of some very special children.

Happy New Year!
Elizabeth Lindsey, Co-Founder of Dream On 3

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Hope

A Christmas note from our Founder, Brandon Lindsey. 

Co-Founders Brandon & Elizabeth Lindsey with their daughters

Co-Founders Brandon & Elizabeth Lindsey with their daughters

HOPE

What does Christmas mean to you? 

I was that kid (and probably still am at heart) that loved Christmas only because I was in a good position to get tons of stuff that I didn’t deserve yet wanted badly.  The enjoyment and excitement that I experienced from receiving gifts was rivaled only by my devious obsession with finding out what those gifts were before Christmas morning.  My mom loves Christmas!  Unlike her mischievous red headed son, Mom’s love for the season came from being able to give her kids everything that we wanted for Christmas.  Seeing our faces light up as we tore away the paper disguising our every wish gave her the greatest pleasure.  So you can imagine how well it went over when I started pointing to the wrapped presents under the tree and naming them off one by one.  “That’s a skateboard.  That one is a soccer ball.  Kyle, you can have that one over there ….it’s a sweater.”  It became painfully clear that I had found my way into the attic and stumbled upon Santa’s secret stash.  Mom’s holiday joy turned very quickly into a fiery fit of Christmas fury.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Christmas that Mom had wrapped that year’s “BIG present” in the most beautiful and elegant white wrapping paper.  As beautiful as it was, she definitely overlooked one fatal flaw.  If you held the box up to the light, at just the right angle you could read the outside of the box as clear as day…”GAMEBOY!”  Funny to me, not so funny to her!

Looking back on it today, I do regret robbing her of that joy.  If you were to ask her, I know that she would say that we were just being boys and no matter how much we drove her crazy, she wouldn’t trade one minute of it.

Now it’s 2013, and Christmas has certainly taken on a different meaning to me.  I’m sure that most normal people mature at a much faster rate, but after 37 years I’ve finally accepted the fact that Christmas may not be about ME.  The other astonishing revelation is that I’m okay with that!  I have finally learned to truly appreciate that overwhelming joy that comes from the act of giving.  There’s no greater joy than watching a child on Christmas morning!  I love being able to give them the things that they have wished so hard for, even though Santa’s still getting all of the credit!

This Christmas is one of the most exciting that I’ve ever experienced.  This year, I’m excited to say that our family has grown exponentially!  Our family is no longer defined by the bodies gathered around our dinner table.  Because of Dream On 3, our family now includes the Batleys, the McNeals, the Corrells, the Thompsons, and the Bowers.  Our family now includes a wonderful Board of Directors, a small army of passionate volunteers, our healthcare partners, our sports community partners, and most importantly YOU…our faithful supporters!

Dream On 3 has provided us a vehicle in which we are able to give a special gift to some very deserving kids.  The best gift that we can give these kids and these families is more than just a day of surprises and celebrity interactions.  Our greatest desire is to gift our Dream Kids with something less tangible yet more sustaining…..HOPE.  We want to show our Dream Kids that no matter the challenges and obstacles that they have to overcome, they are never beyond being able to live out their dreams.

Hope is a very powerful force.  Although very similar, hope is not the same as optimism.  Optimism is seeing the glass as half-full.  Hope is being able to always see the beauty and expect the good in situations where the glass may actually be empty, or even broken.    Hope gives us the strength to live for today like we already know what’s in store for us tomorrow.  It is the force that pushes a solider to endure a living hell in a foreign land so that he may be able to hold his wife and children in his arms again.  It’s the thing that helps that single mom move back into the dating scene and allow herself to be loved again.  It’s the one thing that a parent holds on to when the doctor tells them that “it doesn’t look good.”  Hope is powerful.  Hope can be healing.  Hope can allow you to do things that you never thought you could do.  Hope is the real gift that we at Dream On 3 want to be able to give to our Dream Kids.

Hope sounds like a pretty awesome thing doesn’t it?  Here’s the best part…this Christmas we all get to experience that hope!  The greatest gift of all time was given to all of us about 2013 years ago.   We were given the gift of hope through the life and death of Jesus Christ.  We get to live today because we know what’s in store for us tomorrow. That hope tells us that one day we will all overcome our challenges, our broken bodies,  and our emotional pain.  Let us all take this time to rest in that Hope and to reflect on that Gift.  Merry Christmas Dream Team!

-Brandon Lindsey, Founder of Dream On 3

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Please help us make more Dreams come true for very deserving kids! Click here to help.

“That Beautiful May Day”

Hey Dreamers! We have a special treat to share with you today. 

Below is a paper written by Morgan Batley. Morgan is big sister to Nicholas, our 1st Dream Kid. Morgan and the rest of Nicholas’ family joined Nicholas in his NASCAR dream earlier this year. She is an NC Scholar and Honors Graduate from Mooresville High School. (Wow!) She is currently a Freshman at Appalachian State University (Go APP!) 

Someday Morgan would like to (somewhat) freelance work for sports channels like ESPN or Fox Sports primarily because of her brother’s huge interest in sports. She believes it would be interesting if her brother got to be a commentator while she works along side him behind the scenes to make watching sports enjoyable for all fans. 

We were honored when Morgan chose to write about DO3 for a class and we want to share her talents and story with you! Enjoy! 

1, 2, 3, Dream!

Excitement and anxiety filled the ranch-style building that I called my home. It was the day something extraordinary was going to happen, the day a boy’s dream would come true. My autistic brother, Nicholas, watched the clock, counting down every minute and every second, as the time grew nearer. All dressed in our favorite driver’s shirts, we waited for that call that would signal the beginning of an amazing day. My entire family, including myself, tried distracting ourselves by watching TV or playing on our computer to keep ourselves from manning the window.

Then the knock came. We all jumped up, hearts pounding and huge smiles on our face for we knew it had begun.  Brandon, cofounder of a new charity organization, greeted us at

Dream Kid Nicholas and Family receive their DO3 shirts!

Dream Kid Nicholas and Family receive their DO3 shirts!

the door, giving us shirts with the group’s logo printed on the front. After each receiving a shirt, we quickly replaced our racing tees with the new bright colored shirts. Once we had changed, Brandon told us to come outside to see how we would be getting to the racetrack. The May sunshine greeted us with immense warmth, but the excitement and eagerness pumping through my whole family easily defeated the feeling of heat.

Nicholas' friends and family members pour out of the limo to surprise him (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas’ friends and family members pour out of the limo to surprise him
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

As we waited, I searched around anxiously, seeing what would happen. I remember hearing my heart pounding in my chest as I tried to hide my overwhelming emotions. After what seemed to be an eternity, I heard my brother scream out, “Oh my Lord!” We all turned to see a huge, white limousine heading down the street towards us with its hazard lights on, and then it pulled off into the grass on our yard. As soon as the huge vehicle came to a stop, the door opened and out came a few family friends to greet Nicholas. My brother was greeted with massive amounts of hugs and given gifts that people had made for this special day.

The group before Nicholas' Dream Experience! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

The group before Nicholas’ Dream Experience!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

As everyone mingled amongst each other, I looked down the street to see two police chargers, one an undercover and the other a normal patrol car, heading towards us with their lights on. The first thought in my head was that we were in trouble for obstructing traffic because the limo was not fully off the road. My fear was replaced with excitement when they took their places in front of and behind the limousine and then got out to greet us. I suddenly realized the purpose of the police being there – a police escort to the race. I honestly could not tell you who was more excited about the escort, my brother or myself.

1…2…3..Dream! All hands in! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

1…2…3..Dream! All hands in!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

We all felt as if we were on top of the world at that point. Brandon called us together before take off and asked my brother to do the cheer. We all stuck our hands in the middle of our group and my brother started. “1, 2, 3, Dream!”

Our adventure continued as we made our way towards the racetrack in Concord. The drive to the track seemed to fly by as we were escorted through traffic lights and around cars. We watched the police officers replace each other as we moved from county to county, changing jurisdiction. As we got closer to the track, we passed by the massive grass and gravel filled fields where thousands of fans gathered to camp out and tailgate before the afternoon’s race. Everyone stopped and stared at the tinted windows to try to see who we were. It made me feel special to be able to drive by everyone and have them stop in their tracks to stare as we passed.

Nicholas' sister Morgan gets her VIP pass! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas’ sister Morgan gets her VIP pass!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Once we got to the track, we were handed our credentials, making us feel like VIPs. These credentials granted us access for the rest of the day to all the surprises that were planned for our family.

Once we were dropped off in the infield, we made our way towards the motorhomes where all the big name “celebrities” stayed for the race. As we turned the corner, I nearly stopped where I was as I could feel my heart skip a beat. Coming towards us on a golf cart was a racing legend that I have always wanted to meet. The black cowboy hat, dark sunglasses, and a pair of murky brown cowboy boots confirmed the figure in front of me. I pointed him out to my brother, trying to get him as excited as I was. A huge grin spread on his face as he recognized the iconic figure, exclaiming happily “It’s the King!” Everyone else turned just in time to see Richard Petty drive by us giving a slight wave and a bright white smile.

Racing King Richard Petty gives a wave. (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Racing King Richard Petty gives a wave.
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

We continued walking as he passed and came to a stop at a large, black motorhome. View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3Leading to the door was a brick sidewalk with the letters “D.W.” engraved in one of the bricks, as well as a wooden sign that had “Darrell Waltrip” written along the surface of it. As we walked down the path, his driver went inside the gigantic vehicle and left us to wait anxiously for his appearance. A figure opened the door and my brother screamed out, “Darrell Waltrip! Hi, buddy,” and ran to give him a giant bear hug. He talked about several things with Nicholas, including remember seeing him at a local baseball charity game. Nicholas’s dream definitely came true when he was able to say Darrell Waltrip’s famous starting phrase with the creator, “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let’s go racing boys and Danica!”

Dream Kid Nicholas has fun with his idol, Darrell Waltrip (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Dream Kid Nicholas has fun with his idol, Darrell Waltrip
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his sister pose with Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson

Nicholas and his sister pose with Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson

After spending time with Darrell Waltrip, taking pictures and getting autographs, we made our way back to one of the garage buildings in the center of the grassy infield. As soon as we stepped inside, we were greeted with a wave of cool air from the air conditioning that was being pumped into the concrete building. Rows of chairs filled roughly half of the rectangular garage. As we moved closer to the front of the chairs, I realized that we would be some of the lucky few to actually be able to sit in at a driver’s meeting. Many different celebrities began filling the room and we were able to get some autographs from several people. My brother and I even got our picture taken with Willie Robertson from the TV show, Duck Dynasty.

Nicholas gets a hug from Governor Pat McCrory

Nicholas gets a hug from Governor Pat McCrory (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

After that, I spotted a very important man in our state government, Governor McCrory. Originally, I had no interest in our politics, but after seeing how he interacted with my brother, I had changed my mind-set. Not only was Governor McCrory nice to Nicholas, he took time from greeting other fans to actually interact with my brother, giving him hugs and telling him how much he had made the governor’s day.

Following the meeting, we met with a group of people representing Sprint who had even more surprises in store for us. They led us towards the front stretch of the track, where you could see the air writhe and squirm along the hot asphalt. We arrived onto the pits where every driver’s team was set up and ready for the upcoming race.View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3

Nicholas and sister Morgan watch as the Drivers come off stage.

Nicholas and sister Morgan watch as the Drivers come off stage. (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

Spending very little time on the pits, we were rushed towards the stage where the announcers would introduce the drivers according to their starting position. For these ceremonies, we were standing at the bottom of the stairs, just off the stage where the driver’s walked before they climbed onto their truck to do their parade lap. It took a little while for the introductions to start, which only added to the excitement levels that everyone was trying to control. As all the drivers made their way across the stage and down the stairs, we were given high-fives from nearly all forty-three drivers. What made that event special was when Nicholas got to high-five the driver of the twenty-four Chevrolet and his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. I have never seen him smile so wide before and, as a result, it brought tears to my eyes. This was part two of his dream that he wanted to come true.

Nicholas and his sister Morgan celebrate after high-fiving Jeff Gordon! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his sister Morgan celebrate after high-fiving Jeff Gordon!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3Once the introductions were finished, we were whisked off in a golf cart towards the suites above the racetrack and general admission seating. My family and I were led towards a suite with Sprint’s logo plastered among the doors. I truly felt like the most important person in the world at that moment because we would be watching the race in a stylish and air conditioned suite with free food and drinks. Sprint rented out two large connected suites that only the top employees could get into, like the CEO and his family. It truly was nice to be able to get a viewpoint from higher than you would in the stands, plus the option of watching it on the television screens. My brother was so excited to be able to watch the race from above and be able to freely commentate the race without people giving him odd looks. The race was long, especially when a camera malfunctioned and broke, hitting a car, which caused NASCAR to stop the race for what seemed like an eternity. After the officials got it sorted out, we went back to watching the race.

Nicholas and his family enjoy the race in style. (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his family enjoy the race in style.
(Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

When it was all over, the four of us were exhausted. We got back to the limousine and said our goodbyes to Brandon and the crew as we climbed into the darkened interior of the vehicle. Everyone had a blast and surely something as spectacular and adventure-filled day like this would never be forgotten. To this day, I can still hear my brother exclaim, “This is the best day of my life!” with the same amount of excitement and happiness that he had on that beautiful May day. I can not thank Brandon and the Dream On 3 organization enough for making my brother’s dream come true, and for allowing me to share with him.View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3

-Morgan Batley, Sister of Dream Kid Nicholas

Morgan with her brother Nicholas

Morgan with her brother Nicholas

Watch the video of Nicholas’ Dream Experience!

Learn more about Dream On 3 here

-We need YOUR help to make more Dreams come true! Please consider donating money or miles here

Happy Birthday Dream On 3! (Part 2)

In this post, Martha and Danny Borrell talk about DO3’s first year. We’ve come so far in such a short time! We couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends, family, and community. 
1. Looking back over the last year what were your favorite or most rewarding

Dream Kid Zasheed takes in his Dream Photo Cred- Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Zasheed takes in his Dream
Photo Cred- Themba Imagery

moments?

Danny– By far my most rewarding moment was being there for the Zebulon and Zasheed Dream Experience.  It is hard to pick just one point in time, but I would have to say it was when Zasheed stepped foot onto the field at Yankee Stadium.  To see his face as he turned and looked up into the upper deck and around the stadium was priceless.  We witnessed a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.  His face will be forever etched into my mind.

Martha– The sincere joy on the faces of each Dream Kid.  The happiness they exuded and graciousness for being selected and experiencing their sports dream.  Specifically, Zasheed’s ‘Thank You’ on the video from the Yankee experience.  He was so genuine with those two words!
Photo cred- Themba Imagery View more at http://thembaimagery.com

Photo cred- Themba Imagery
View more at http://thembaimagery.com

2. What surprised you the most along the way?
Danny– While we did face some obstacles during the preparation phase of each dream experience, it was amazing how each experience pieced itself together seamlessly.  Whether it was Joe Cox at Elegant Transportation selflessly donating the entire 2 day limo service or our flights being upgraded to 1st class, it seemed as if there was divine intervention that helped us make sure that each experience was worthy of the child’s wish.
 Martha– The toughest / most frustrating thing is that because I live out of state I have not been able to attend any of the dream experiences.
3. Do you wish anything had gone differently?
Danny-  Yes… I feel terrible that Sunny and Donald did not get to go onto the field during batting practice at Yankee Stadium.  It was such a great experience for everyone involved but we had to leave 2 behind because of tight security.  But, I think that as we get more Dream Experiences under our belt, we are learning how to streamline the process. 
4. What is your favorite part of a Dream Experience?

Danny- I love hearing the athlete / team / agent reaction to each child’s wish.  These athletes get requests everyday, ranging from autographs to interviews, to anything in between.  But when you introduce them to the Dream Kid, it is amazing to see how they interact with each other.  Professional athletes sometimes get a bad rap, but put them in front of a child who is in need of some good fortune and roles change:  the athlete looks up to the dream recipient, not the other way around.
Martha– Because I have not been able to be at a Dream Experience, I love looking at the pictures and videos that are posted on line. 
5. Describe a moment that you were worried something wouldn’t go as planned:

Danny: I worry every dream experience that something won’t go as planned.  I try not to, but you want so badly for these kids to enjoy their Dream Experience to the fullest!
6. What are you most excited about for the future of DO3?
Danny: In the future I am most excited about meeting more DO3 kids and granting their sports’ wishes!
Martha:  More dreams being fulfilled.  Being able to experience first hand, a child’s dream being granted.  The growth and expansion of DO3.  
-Martha and Danny Borrell, Co-Founders of DO3
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Learn more about Dream On 3 at dreamon3.org