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!

“The Greatest Day of my Life!”

A note from Wendy Batley, mother of our 1st Dream Kid-

May 26, 2013 –

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“The greatest day of my life!”

That is how Nicholas described the day.  Even today, he stills talks about it.  That is the day that Dream on 3 made a dream come true! What an amazing group of people involved with Dream On 3.  From the moment we met them, we all felt like VIPs, and on May 26th, they made sure we were treated as such.  To fully understand what this day meant to Nicholas, you must first know what a huge fan Nicholas is of NASCAR.  One of the gifts of being born with Asperger’s is that the brain has an amazing ability to stay focused on one subject and remember so many specific details.  Nicholas can name every driver, car number, sponsor, crew chief, and just about every winner of each of the races.  His dream is to become a commentator for NASCAR, and meet his idol, Darrell Waltrip, a retired driver and current announcer for NASCAR on FOX.

Nicholas was so excited about going to the Coca Cola 600 that day, but had no idea of all the surprises that Dream On 3 had in store for us, with an emphasis on the US, because, while this was Nicholas’ dream, the entire family was included, especially Nicholas’ older sister, Morgan.  That was so amazing because many times, so much emphasis is put on the child with Special Needs that the sibling feels a little left out.  On this day, no one was left out, everyone felt special, and for that, we will always be grateful.

So, about the day…first, a huge limo filled with friends, signs, gifts, and more showed up at our home!  Then the police escorted us all the way to the track.  When we arrived at the speedway, we got our special passes so that we could access all areas.  While walking the infield, Nicholas waved to The King, Richard Petty, and shook hands with Mike Helton, President of NASCAR.  These were two people whom Nicholas recognized right away and felt honored to have seen.  After that, we headed to the motor homes of the drivers, teams, and announcers.  As soon as Nicholas saw the sign that said “Darrell Waltrip”, the smile that had been on his face since the limo pulled up, got even bigger!  We knocked on the door, and out came Nicholas’ idol!  That moment was awesome!  The two of them acted like old friends, with hugs, high fives, and smiles all around.  There were even some tears of joy from those of us honored enough to witness that moment!  One of Nicholas’ favorite parts was getting to say, “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys and Danica!” with Darrell Waltrip.  Pictures, autographs, and more gifts followed.  We could have stayed there all afternoon, but the Dream On 3 team had more surprises planned!

The rest of the prerace surprises included an invitation to the Driver’s Meeting, where Nicholas got to meet some more people, including the guys from Duck Dynasty and our Governor, Pat McCrory.  We then went to Driver Introductions.  Nicholas had a front row spot to give each of the drivers a high five as they exited the stage.  Here, he got to see his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, another dream come true!  After that, we were taken up to the Suites to enjoy the race with food, drinks and headphones for Nicholas so that he could listen in on the teams’ radios as they communicated back and forth during the race.  What a great way to watch the race.  Our limo was waiting for us at the conclusion to return us home.  Everyone fell asleep on the ride home, our dreams filled with amazing memories of the wonderful day!

Words just cannot express how much this day meant to us.  As parents, you love to see your kids happy, having fun, and making lasting memories.  Dream On 3 made that possible that day in May.  So many days are filled with struggles, frustrations, and worries about what will happen in the future, but on that day, there was nothing but happy thoughts, enjoyment, and smiles.  We were so honored to be part of Dream On 3’s first experience, and Nicholas loved being the “pioneer,” as he so appropriately named himself.  Many charities focus on making one time wishes come true, but Dream On 3 focuses on fulfilling dreams and helping kids to continue to follow those dreams.  In the future, when we hear and see Nicholas on ESPN, Fox Sports, or ABC Sports, we will look back to this moment and be grateful for all that was put into this day to make Nicholas’ dream come true and further his dedication to follow his dream!

Thank you to Dream On 3, Darrell Waltrip, Coca Cola, NASCAR, Sprint, Speedway Children’s Charities, and everyone else involved in making this day “the greatest day of (Nicholas’) life!”

-Wendy Batley, Nicholas’ mother

Meet Dream Kid BJ!

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With the help of the Charlotte Touchdown Club, Dream Kid BJ Correll was able to receive signed memorabilia and meet Doug Flutie earlier this year!

“BJ was extremely excited to attend the Charlotte Touchdown Club luncheon and meet football legend, Doug Flutie. DreamOn3’s Brandon and Elizabeth were very kind and were completely interested in making that afternoon extra-special for BJ. As Brandon learned more about BJ, he realized BJ was also an avid Carolina Tarheels fan. At the end of the afternoon, he presented BJ with a framed Tarheels print which he will treasure for years to come. The day’s experience brought the biggest eye-sparkling smile to my son’s face. The afternoon couldn’t have gone better, and it was a wonderful, unforgettable experience that lifted BJ’s spirits during a particularly rough treatment phase. Hats off to the DreamOn3 organization, and their focus on making dreams come true for children in our area with life-changing conditions.”

                                          -Michelle Correll, BJ’s mother

In the fall of 2012, 12 year old BJ Correll was playing football for Boger City Optimist Club in Denver, NC. His mother noticed that after practice and athletic conditioning training, BJ seemed to struggle much harder to recover than most of the other kids. His mother talked to coaches and teachers to find out what they were seeing and what may be going on. In September of 2012, BJ’s mother decided that it was time to visit the hospital. After several tests and blood work, the doctor informed Michelle and BJ that he was battling leukemia.

BJ began a series of treatments at Levine Children’s Hospital. His best friend has been by his side through this process and hangs out with BJ on days when the treatments take their toll on him. BJ does not view himself as a victim, but instead has chosen to fight this disease with a positive attitude and all of his strength.

“God saves His toughest battles for His strongest solders.”

BJ is now doing much better! His is back to playing football and has his hair back. Go BJ! 

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http://www.dreamon3.org