Dream Stories

Dream Stories

Making Dreams Come True

for children with life-threatening illnesses

Dream Stories

The Power of a Dream Fulfilled

Every year, thousands of families are given the news that their child has cancer or some other life-threatening illness. Many of them live right here on the First Coast. For these families, life is instantly changed. School days are replaced with hospital stays, play dates are exchanged for radiation treatments, and the simple joy of watching their child sleep silently in bed is now shadowed by the fear that he or she may not reach another birthday.

Dreams Come True exists to help these brave children and their families find a momentary reprieve from the stress and struggles associated with battling a serious illness. We do this through the fulfillment of dreams. For some children, that’s a special day at Disney World or a shopping spree in New York City, but it can also be something as simple as a new furry friend. Dreams bring hope and light to families facing some of their darkest days, and can give these amazing children the strength to defy the odds. That’s the true power of a dream fulfilled.

If you would like to help fulfill the dreams of local children battling life-threatening illnesses, please visit our Get Involved page to learn more about how you can make a difference. You can also donate online today!

2021 Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship Winners

Alan Yakoub

Alan was the recipient of a $1,000 Dreamer education scholarship, courtesy of the Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship, funded by a generous estate bequest from the Honorable John H. Moore, II and Joan Kraft Moore Living Trust.

Like most kids his age, 15-year-old Alan didn’t know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life and didn’t give it a lot of thought. He was young and the world was vast with options, but nothing called to him. This changed when he was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Suddenly, his options appeared limited, but according to Alan he later realized “being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness allowed for many positive changes in [his] life.” His battle with cancer and treatments brought a new focus to his education. Inspired by the people taking care of him, Alan committed himself to preparing for a career in the medical field. In addition to completing chemotherapy while still in high school, he also became certified as a medical administrative assistant (CMAA) and received his EKG certification. For Alan, this scholarship brings him one step closer to fulfilling his dream of working in the medical field.

Shortly after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s, he learned he was eligible to be granted a dream through Dreams Come True. He pictured a vacation to Hawaii with his family, which motivated him through every difficult round of treatment. A few months after completing his last round of chemo in November 2016, his endurance was rewarded, and he and his family were able to celebrate in Hawaii. According to Alan, “Dreams allow us to prioritize what is important in life; getting rid of any feelings of discouragement and doubts.” Keeping sight of his dreams during his many rounds of therapy was critical.

Now, after graduating high school and with his cancer in remission, Alan plans to use his scholarship at the University of North Florida to study biomedical sciences.

Alan is one of more than 4,000 local children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness who have seen their dreams turned into realities thanks to Dreams Come True. Currently, more than 00 children are dreaming of the perfect escape

Timothy “TJ” Grace

TJ was the recipient of a $1000 Dreamer education scholarship, courtesy of the Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship, funded by a generous estate bequest from the Honorable John H. Moore, II and Joan Kraft Moore Living Trust.

TJ has overcome more medical obstacles during his childhood than most people do throughout their entire lives.

Starting with alarming symptoms that led to an arthritis diagnosis at age six, TJ experienced many frightening health crises before starting high school. In the years following the arthritis diagnosis, TJ was also diagnosed with autoimmune deficiency, spondyloarthritis, polyarticular arthritis, and gastroparesis. At one point, he was taking 12 different pills daily and receiving two injections each week. Eventually, he was able to simplify his treatment regimen to infusions once per month which has been effective so far.

When TJ was referred to Dreams Come True at age 10, he dreamt of meeting professional skateboarder, Rob Dyrdek. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, plans fell through. As consolation, Dyrdek sent TJ an autographed photo and skateboard, and Dreams Come True sent TJ and his family to the Orlando theme parks with accommodations at Give Kids The World Village

While at the Village, TJ made a star to put on the wall, and enjoyed visits to Disney World, Sea World, and indoor skydiving with his family. He said they’ve gone back to the Village many times over the years and always make a point to visit his star. “It’s always a good time when we go back together as a family because we all reminisce about the good times we had there.”

TJ hopes to one day bring his family back to the Village as volunteers and has completed a lot of community service already. He’s volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Lake Nona, FL and Plantation Animal Hospital. He has also raised money for the Arthritis Foundation with a food truck rally and delivers food to homebound seniors in Green Cove Springs, FL.

As a Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship recipient, he plans to study cybersecurity at the University of North Florida starting in the Fall of 2021.

Isabelle Scott

Isabelle was the recipient of a $1,000 Dreamer education scholarship, courtesy of the Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship, funded by a generous estate bequest from the Honorable John H. Moore, II and Joan Kraft Moore Living Trust.

Isabelle has always loved music, but never anticipated how that love would be challenged. She practiced for years in vocal and harp performance, as her instructors will attest, she excelled in both. Then in January 2018, while on the road to her first college audition for voice and harp, she began experiencing unusual symptoms. Her family took her to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

“What was to have been a season of college auditions, performances, and competitions as well as finishing my studies as a home-educated student, became five months of intensive chemotherapy and extensive hospitalization,” Isabelle wrote in her scholarship application. Even while hospitalized, she never stopped practicing with her harp, and her music delighted everyone on the hospital floor. Her experience in the hospital deepened her musical passion, especially for the harp.“I do not think that anyone can go through an experience like cancer without recognizing the value of love and life itself—a fervent desire to continue to live and enjoy all that life has to offer. For me, getting back to my music, which I had been so involved in across my teen years, was a major force in regaining my equilibrium.”

When she was released from the hospital in June 2018, she enrolled for the fall semester at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. The following January, she performed at a gala for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, where Dreams Come True fulfilled her dream by gifting her a Lyon and Healy 23 pedal harp. The following summer, she transferred from Converse College to the University of Miami to focus on harp performance, where she is still studying today.

Isabelle is grateful for the gift of the Dreams Come True Moore Scholarship and everything Dreams Come True has done for her.

 

Where Are They Now?

Rudy Wells

“I woke up to a morning that would change my life forever.” Those were the typed words from Rudy Wells’ letter to Dreams Come True in 2020, recapping the start of his journey with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the impact Dreams Come True would make on him and his family. We are honored to share with you Rudy’s full letter, which discusses his medical journey, the impact of his dream, and his goal for the future. His words below truly express the POWER of a dream.

I woke up to a morning that would change my life forever. My stomach was in a knot as my mom stared in shock at the bruises that covered my entire body. I still remember the anxiety and tension in her voice when she called my dad to explain how sick I appeared. I had a smile on my face when we picked up my dad from work on our way to the hospital. We made it through the main entrance, I could not hold on any longer, I collapsed losing consciousness. I slowly woke up to the sound of the steady beat of the heart machine and three blurry figures talking about my condition. I will never forget my dad asking “Is there any way that you can give this to me so my son does not have to go through this?” I soon discovered that I had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After enduring years of intensive chemotherapy, cranial radiation, and many hospital stays, I was able to make a full recovery.

Through my journey, I have been able to experience much joy through several nonprofit organizations that have truly made a difference in my life. One of which being Dreams Come True. My family and I enjoyed a trip to Disney World and Sea World, having so much fun in the process. This trip allowed us to take a step away from treatments and have an experience of a lifetime. I think of the fond memories of meeting all the Disney characters, riding all the rides, and seeing my family happy. I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for the wonderful experience and the time I was able to spend with my family in the face of such an eye-opening experience.

From a young age I have wanted to make a difference in the live of families that are battling childhood cancer. During my life, I have had the privilege working with several nonprofit organizations with the same goal of helping these families. My ultimate goal is to become a pediatric oncologist so that I can inspire hope, compassion, and care. I am happy to announce that I am graduating from medical school and I will be entering University of Florida’s Jacksonville pediatric program where I will be training at Wolfson’s Children Hospital with the hopes of specializing in pediatric oncology.

Thank you for helping me reach this point in my life and the compassion that you have showed and will continue to show to so many families.  My hope is that you will continue to hear more inspiring stories and understand the value that you have added to so many lives. 

We are excited for Rudy as he works toward fulfilling his goal to be a pediatric oncologist and inspire hope, compassion and care. We are honored to be part of his journey and know that he experience of his dream is still making a difference.

Learn how you can give back to help children realize their dreams, by visiting our Ways To Give page.

 

Meet Some of Our Dreamers

Since 1984, Dreams Come True has fulfilled the dreams of more than 4,000 local children. We actively work with more than 400 families each year, planning and scheduling upcoming dreams. The Dreamers below represent some of the children who are still deciding on the perfect dream, or have see their dreams turned into realities with the help of our generous sponsors and donors. We thank you for taking the time to watch these short videos and getting to know a little more about their journeys.

dreams come true

Hartley’s Story

dreams come truedreams come true

Rian Dreams Big

dreams come true

Jake’s Journey

dreams come true

Rue’s New Friend

I’m Dreaming Of…

Dreams Come True never turns away a child or puts them on a waiting list because there is no guarantee of tomorrow. But, we can’t do it without your help. The typical dream averages $3,300 to $7,200, depending on the number of family members and the complexity of the dream. We are actively seeking individuals, schools, groups and companies to help fund the following Dreamers who have yet to experience the power of a dream fulfilled.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Hedden Photography

Jacob L

Jacob L.

Age 9

Diagnosis: Paraplegia

Area of Town: Orange Park

“To learn he had been given a dream was so exciting to him and our family. It helped motiviate him through this recovery.”

— Jacob’s Family

Ji’Mya

Ji'Miya

Age 10

Diagnosis: Sickle Cell

Area of Town: Northwest Jacksonville

“I think Dreams Come True is the best ever!! They are wonderful angels and truly make dreams come true.”

— Ji’Mya

Norah

Norah

Age 5

Diagnosis: Spina Bifida

Area of Town: Riverside

“Dreams Come True is incredible. Everyone who works there has a special gift for loving children and making them feel special.”

— Norah

Ryan

Ryan

Age 17

Diagnosis: Brain Tumor

Area of Town: Flagler County

“Dreams Come True is an amazing foundation that brings joy and happiness during trying times. We have had some of the happiest memories made becase of Dreams Come True. They distract the scariness of the situations we are faced with and bring a sense of relief, even if it is just for one day.”

— Ryan’s Family

Zion

Zion

Age 13

Diagnosis: Germinoma

Area of Town: Northwest Jacksonville

“Dreams Come True is a blessing in so many ways. They make you feel very special and I would love to donate to them when I get older.”

— Zion