Monday, March 23, 2015

FROM THE EYES OF A DREAM FACTORY FAMILY

By Katie Anne Lester — mother of a Dream Factory child from our Lexington Chapter.
4 minutes ago I have been told that several of you have been wondering how things are going so I thought I’d give an update on our life now that we are back home. As soon as we returned there was an instant awareness of a calmer Bennett as she slowly began to exhale again in the absence of her past fearful experiences. She loves it here and obviously feels peace, comfort and, most of all, safety in her own room.
Knowing that we needed to take our Disney trip sooner rather than later, I had very low expectations. Essentially taking a 3-year-old straight out of a small hospital room and landing in Disney World sounded like a recipe for disaster. And true to form, on the morning of the trip, I actually did not think we would even make it out of the house. Bennett had one of her biggest meltdowns to date. She refused to go on a “trip” because she didn’t really understand what that meant. In her mind, we were taking her to the doctor and simply acting like it would be fun as I had played that trick many times before. If it hadn’t been for her curiosity about the limo she wouldn’t have made a move toward the door. And oh, what a trip it turned out to be!
Thanks to the Lexington Dream Factory, we had the red carpet treatment from start to finish. We literally were VIPs everywhere we went, quite different than regular park visitors. Every facet of the trip including the Lexington Airport, Delta Airlines, Give Kids the World as well as Disney World made us their top priority. We were given special passes that can’t even be purchased that allowed us to go to the front of every single line and photo opportunity at Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. In retrospect, I don’t know what we would have done without it because Bennett is incapable of waiting for anything.
On our first day in the Magic Kingdom, Billy and I did have a moment of panic. Without a lot of thought we chose “It’s a Small World” as the first ride and naturally Bennett loved it. As we exited she immediately had a complete meltdown because she didn’t want to ride anything else. Our special pass also entitled us to keep riding with no wait. After a continuous third time, Billy and I looked at each other in full realization that we were going to be stuck on this ride all day! Talk about REALLY getting that song stuck in your head. Finally, we convinced her that there were other really cool places to visit and she ultimately rode every ride her height permitted. She even rode the Seven Dwarfs roller coaster and was so proud of herself because it was scary.
Bennett’s favorite part of the trip was looking at all of the “pretties” in the gift shops. In true Bennett fashion, she was obsessed with the small souvenir Disney pins. We spent hours waiting in each shop as she delighted in holding, examining and returning each one to its spot. Shop by shop, display by display, row by row …. We were able to coerce her onto new rides with the promise of a new gift shop at each end. When asked if she wanted to buy a pin, she indicated she simply just wanted to look. That is Daddy’s idea of shopping.
Bennett was continuously fed through her feeding tube the entire trip which created a few challenges. She was never hungry so she never wanted to stop and let us eat. Unfortunately I have become a very quick eater over the past few months. All in all, the three of us had such a great time and made so many wonderful memories. You never appreciate the importance of charities like The Lexington Dream Factory until you need them. This is a wonderful organization led by a caring group of people whose special ministry serves those of us with unexpected needs and life challenges.
Ironically, as soon as we got home Bennett started eating. She woke up hungry one morning and we haven’t had to feed her through her tube since. It is so nice that she doesn’t have to be hooked up to anything at all anymore. She often asks, “What am I missing?” to which she also responds, “I don’t have the pole or the backpack anymore!” It is so obvious just how much she enjoys this new freedom even though I still give all of her medicines through the tube.
Now that home has become Bennett’s true comfort zone, we really do not leave the house. Once we tried to visit Claire’s, a shop with plenty of small pretties. After about ten minutes we had to leave and go straight home. Being stuck at home all day, every day, has its challenges. In my mind I want to make wonderful memories each and every day but the reality is that each day is a grind and before you know it, the day is over. It literally takes two people to take care of my two kids at all times. Bennett is so needy and demanding and with Juliet almost walking it equates to a three ring circus. I find it strange that in the day to day craziness you can forget the cruelty of our situation. To some degree it seems as if Bennett is actually getting better. Your mind plays games with you and you start to believe it. The chemo is leaving her body and she is regaining some normalcy. Her eyelashes and eyebrows are returning. Her hair is starting to grow back and her face, as always, is simply gorgeous. She is so excited about her hair that she even grabbed a bow out of her drawer and asked to wear it. With tears in my eyes I replied, ”not yet sweetie.” These are all wonderful traits that are returning the “old” Bennett but in the back of your mind you think, if her hair cells are growing…so are the tumor cells.
This reality smacks you, at night time of course, and the sadness and scared feelings return. I find myself constantly looking at her eyes and her coordination in fear that I might see something. Each night I tuck her in and wonder how many more opportunities will I get to do this? How many more mornings will I hear those precious words, “MOMMY!!!!!”? I don’t want to believe it and so sometimes I don’t. Mind games can save your sanity. Bennett will sometimes go to her grandparents’ house to play and Billy and I will be at home alone with Juliet. Quiet. It is so quiet. We realize that is how it will be and it just seems much too quiet. No feet running around or constant blabbing about Larry Boy or Jasmine. No popsicles at midnight (when your kid has cancer there are no rules) or giant bubble baths three times a day as she tries to make up for all those months without the real thing. Bennett’s vibrant presence in our home still represents life regardless of its timed destination. We continuously and prayerfully ask God to heal and extend her life every day. I also pray for divine guidance. I try and talk to her about Heaven and meeting Jesus but I’m not certain if she gets it. It might seem strange but I tell her to show me signs from heaven once she gets there. I want so badly to hear from her once she is gone. I've heard that it has occurred to some and I want it to happen to me.
Rarely do you see death coming and I want her to be as prepared as possible. Now if I can only prepare myself. I am trying to instill her voice within my mind as well as memorize her face, especially her eyes. Most Moms already feel like they don’t take enough pictures or videos of their children. It is a real challenge in my situation with a kid that hates taking pictures. I just don’t want to forget a thing about my sweet Bennett. Billy and I still find it hard to believe that we are still being loved so much. People naturally tend to forget or get too busy but love seems to keep constantly overflowing in our home. From the dinners and support to all of the cards and messages, we are just so humbled. I have a heavy heart because I haven’t thanked each and every one of you. I want you to know that I will try my best to in the days ahead. My days are long and very emotional but I want everyone to know just how much we appreciate you. We have said since day one that our story is sad but would almost be unbearable without the community of support that has sustained us. Thank you, most of all, for being God’s love to us.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Board of Directors mid-year meeting complete

A big thank you to everyone who was present at our mid-year Board of Directors meetings in Louisville, Ky, on March 13-14. We were happy to show off our new office space at 410 W. Chestnut St., Suite 530, too!

Mark your calendars for our annual National Convention, which will be held in Orlando, FL, the weekend of Sept. 25-26.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#33 Dream Factory car

Our National Ambassador, Alex Kennedy, is driving the #33 Dream Factory car in Phoenix today! Make sure to check him out!!! What an awesome car and driver!!! 





Thursday, March 12, 2015

HQ moves to new office! Board meeting this week!

The Dream Factory national headquarters is excited to announce that we have moved offices and will host an open house this Friday (March 13) at 4:30-6:30 p.m. in conjunction with our board meetings. The new address is 410 W. Chestnut St., Suite 530, Louisville, KY 40202. Our phone and fax numbers, along with emails, have not changed.



Our mid-year board meetings will be held Friday and Saturday. Below is the schedule of events:

Friday, March 13
@ Dream Factory HQ offices
1:00-3:30 Executive Committee meeting
3:30-4:30 Mentoring Committee meeting
4:30-6:30 open house

Saturday, March 14
@ Courtyard Marriott Louisville Airport
9:00-noon Board of Directors meeting
12:00-1:30 lunch
1:30-4:00 Long Range Planning update

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 2015 updates

From the entire Dream Factory family: WELCOME TO 2015!!! It's a start to making many more dreams come true, continuing a mission that began with a single dream thirty-five years ago in 1980. As we enter another year, following are a few updates:

Our mid-year meetings will be held at our National Headquarters in Louisville, Ky, on Saturday, March 15. And our annual National Convention will be in Orlando, Florida, the weekend of September 25 in conjunction with mAAgic Flight. We always appreciate the opportunity for all the chapters to gather for these two meetings with a lot to discuss.

We're excited to announce that we have a new interactive form on our website that makes referring a dream child much easier. You can see the form at the direct link: www.dreamfactoryinc.org/referral-form/. A person filling out this form answers a few simple questions, provides contact information, details about the child, and selects the nearest chapter from a pull-down menu. The form is then emailed directly to the corresponding chapter email. Our entire multi-page application is much more extensive so this one-page form will be used as an initial contact between families-chapters before proceeding.

We're also excited to announce that we'll be working with the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas to grant six trips during the next year. These are always amazing dreams and we appreciate the support Atlantis has provided to us.

As always, thanks for the support YOU have given to the Dream Factory and we look forward to the rest of 2015 and the many, many more dreams we will grant!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Make your end-of-year donation before it's too late!




This holiday season, take a moment to join us in helping to fulfill the dream of a seriously ill child by making a generous, tax-deductible donation before December 31, 2014.

During this time of the year, we cherish our time with family, especially children, who give the holidays special meaning and provide wonderful memories that we fondly think of for years to come. However, many children struggle with some of the simplest day-to-day tasks most of us take for granted.

Dreams give children hope for the future! The Dream Factory grants dreams for critically and chronically ill children in an effort to provide some cheer and relief for both the children and their families. The smile on a dream child’s face is the greatest gift that we all receive in return.

Thanks supporters like you, The Dream Factory has been able to fulfill the dreams of more than 27,000 critically and chronically ill children for nearly 35 years!



May this holiday season bring you joy and happiness!
Make your final donation of 2014, small or large, count the most by clicking here.

Be the one who helps a child’s dream come true this Holiday season!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Need a Christmas tree? Go to Tree Classics and proceeds go toward The Dream Factory

Stretch Your Holiday Cheer Even Further!

This holiday season, The Dream Factory is excited to announce that we are partnering with Tree Classics, the world’s No. 1 artificial Christmas tree seller, to raise money for our organization. The goal of the campaign is not only to fundraise, but also to help spread awareness about the work that we do in our communities. We’re so thrilled to tell you about this partnership.



How the Campaign Works

From now until Dec. 15, we have a chance to collect a portion of Tree Classics’ online tree sales. After customers make their selection and are ready to checkout, they will be prompted to choose a nonprofit to benefit from a portion of the sale. Ours, along with a number of other worthy causes, will be among the options. The buyer does not have to make an extra contribution; rather, Tree Classics will donate a portion of that sale to The Dream Factory.

It’s that simple!

Spreading Awareness

We are so grateful for all you've done to help us get this far with spreading our mission, but we need your help to make sure this partnership is a success! If you, your family members, friends or anyone you know are in the market for a new tree, please visit TreeClassics.com to view their many options. You will be pleasantly surprised to find there are firs, spruces and pines; gold, silver, white and green trees; and heights and widths perfect for any room.

You can also help us by sharing news of the fundraiser on your preferred social media channels. We’ll be posting updates on our pages, so please share them as you see fit! Rest assured that the proceeds from each sale marked for our nonprofit will be used to benefit The Dream Factory.

Start Shopping


To find your perfect artificial Christmas tree and give back to the community at the same time, please visit www.treeclassics.com.

Happy Holidays!