CELEBRITY MEET AND GREETS
#98 When you take a peek in Mark's bedroom, two things become immediately apparent- 1. He loves basketball and 2. He's a huge LA Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan. Fourteen years after his symptoms began, this 17 year old young man has finally been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease. Through it all a few things have remained constant, he has the love and support of his family and friends and,...he has basketball. As manager of the Webster Thomas basketball team he can be found at every game watching the plays, watching his friends, and watching the cheerleaders! On March 9th, 2010 Mark's ultimate dream came true. He and his family attended an amazing Lakers game (Kobe shot the winning basket with just seconds left in the game). After the game Mark and his parents had the priveledge of spending time with Kobe, they talked basketball, he signed autographs and Mark walked out of the room with an ear to ear smile and Kobe's sunglasses!
#103 Since he was very young, Nicolas loved to watch the Miami Dolphins play football. Whether it was the colors, or the dolphin, no one knows for sure, but now, at the age of 13 he's a true Dolph-Fan. Diagnosed with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy has limited his mobility, but it didn't stop him from climbing aboard an airplane headed for Miami on Christmas Day 2009. Two days later, his 13th birthday, Nicolas and his family were guests of the Miaimi Dolphins. The family watched practice before the game and enjoyed a "meet and greet" when the game was done. Nicolas had the opportunity to meet all but 9 of the current Dolphin players, it was certainly an incredible birthday! Smart Destinations added to his trip by donating "Go Miami Cards" so Nicolas could visit a variety of attractions while in the area.
#99 and #100 This set of sisters from Webster live with cystic fibrosis. At 14 and 12 years of age, they have both been to the hospital for various surgeries and treatments. As much as they try to be normal every day kids, their daily routines revolve around medication and twice daily "vest" treatments. Both girls are talented piano players and performers. Emily, who loves the idea of traveling, asked The Dream Factory for a Caribbean Cruise, and so, before they new it, the passports had arrived, snorkeling excursions were booked, and the family was off on an adventure. Elizabeth, who loves being part of the drama club at school, had a different dream. Elizabeth was able to meet her favorite musician, Idina Menzel. Ms. Menzel, who indeed has a beautiful voice starred in the Broadway production of Wicked. Syracuse University donated front row seats for Elizabeth, Emily and their mom and East Coast Limousine made sure the three ladies arrived on time and in style. After the concert, Elizabeth, although a little shy, was able to spend some time with Ms. Menzel to chat, take photos, and get autographs.
#91 North Chili is home to this 9 year old young man. Angelo's kidney disease was diagnosed just a year before he requested a dream from The Dream Factory. In this short amount of time, his life has turned upside down. He has developed several complications, some due to medication, others due to therapy, and then there are those directly caused by his disease. Two things seemed to make him smile, talking about his family, and talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Angelo's dream came true two days before the Steeler's season home opener. Angelo, his Mom, and his Grandmother were able to watch the Steelers practice then they spent just over 2 hours with the team. Every team member signed a football for Angelo and Hines Ward presented him with three tickets to Sunday's game. A game which the Steeler's won just for him!
#86 Dan is a freshman at St. John Fisher College living with polycystic kidney disease. Although he's a baseball player, Dan enjoys watching college football, particularly, Notre Dame football. A simple request, Dan hoped for a tour of Notre Dame University's football stadium. With the help of the folks at the University, Dan and his family were guests at the invitation only "Quarterback's Luncheon", received a guided tour from the school's Head of Security(which included stops in areas where only the team is allowed) touched the "Play Like A Champion Today" sign, and spent nearly an hour chatting with Coach Weis about everything from football, to family, to battling a challenging chronic illness which Coach Weis is very familiar with. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved. The next day's game began with sideline passes and concluded with a 36-33 loss to Pittsburgh in a fourth overtime- a historic game in South Bend, Indiana.
#85 Ryan's Grandfather taught him the in's and out's of NASCAR. Now a big Carl Edwards and Dale Jr fan, Ryan, who lives with cerebral palsy, chose his favorite of the two and on August 10th he had the opportunity to meet Carl Edwards at Watkins Glenn. Carl spent a nice amount of time with Ryan and his family and signed some souvenirs. Perhaps his favorite is the t-shirt where Carl wrote, "Ryan, Your the Man! Carl Edwards". The 99 Office Depot driver is a big supporter of The Dream Factory. He actually presented the trophy from his first NASCAR win to a Dream Factory child, Josh Bassinger of Central Missouri. More recently, after a big win in St. Louis, Carl presented the autographed trophy to The Dream Factory's National Director. It's now proudly on display at our National Headquarter's in Louisville, KY.
#81 Canandaigua is home to 12 year old named Ian. Thanks to his Grandfather, Ian, who was born with a congenital heart defect, is a big New York Yankees fan. Alex Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, is his favorite player. On June 30th, 2008, Ian was in the dugout with the Yankees during batting practice. When they returned from NYC Ian's mom let us know "A-Rod was available and really payed a lot of attention to Ian. He even gave him a pair of his current batting gloves!! And he hit a home run into Monument Park for our boy (and of course the team also). Ian got his bat signed by most of the team and also got pictures with various team members." Ian's family also had a complimentary visit to the Empire State Building and enjoyed a couple days of sightseeing, shopping, and eating great food in the Big Apple.
#76 Brooke, a 10 year old redhead from Webster had her first brain surgery at the age of 5. A tumor on her petuitary gland, although luckily not cancerous, caused headaches and other challenges. Brooke is a big country music fan and hoped to meet one of her favorite musicians. A meeting with Trace Adkins was scheduled and unfortunately cancelled due to a snow storm in February. The Dream Factory and Brooke didn't give up hope. In the summer of 2007, Trace Adkins was scheduled to perform at America's Fair outside of Buffalo, NY. The Dream Factory took Brooke shopping for a new outfit for the show and with the help of The Dream Factory of Buffalo and the wonderful folks at America's Fair, Brooke had a wonderful time at the concert and a meet and greet with Trace Adkins. The next day, Brooke and her family returned to the fair grounds and enjoyed the sights and sounds and all that the fair had to offer. It was a great summer experience.
#73 Erica was in the final days of a battle with leukemia. She loved animals and soccer and the Beach Boys. Thanks to her friends and family, Erica was taken on a private tour of the zoo and met Olympic soccer player, Amy Wambach. The Dream Factory was able to make a few phone calls to fulfill her final dream. On September 20th, 2006, Erica received a phone call from, the Beach Boys singer, Bruce Johnston. He was up beat and friendly and it put a smile on Erica's face. Six days later, Erica passed away. The Dream Factory is honored that we were able to do something wonderful for Erica and add to the memories her family holds dear.
#59 At a young age, Tory was diagnosed with an inflammatory muscle disease that instructs her immune system to attack her muscle tissue. As a result, it is challenging for Tory to not only walk long distances, but to run and jump and play with her friends. There is however one thing that Tory does enjoy, listening to Country Music, especially Keith Urban! When The Dream Factory learned that Keith Urban was going to be here in Rochester, we moved quickly and less than 1 month after meeting Tory, her dream came true. Tory went shopping at The GAP, had her hair styled by the Cutting Crew, was whisked off to Blue Cross Arena in a Limousine courtesy of East Coast Limousine, enjoyed a meet and greet with Mr. Urban, saw the concert and spent the night at the Clarion Hotel in Downtown Rochester. Aside from the incredible "meet and greet", one of the highlights of Tory's dream was arriving at school the next day in her limo. Her classmates where all looking out the window watching the conclusion of a dream come true.
#48 Soon after his diagnosis of lymphoblastic lymphoma, Abijah asked The Dream Factory if we could invite the former Buffalo Bill's Quarterback and Football Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly, to a cook out at his house. Living about 2 hours from Buffalo, anything is possible, but unfortunately, Mr. Kelly wasn't available for a cookout. However, instead of going to Abijah, Mr. Kelly invited Abijah to come to him for dinner. The Friday after Thanksgiving, after choosing tuxedos from The Clothes Horse and gowns from The Wedding Dress, Abijah, his family, and his girlfriend were taken to Buffalo, NY by Specialty Coach and Limousine. While there, thanks to Hunter's Hope Foundation (see link for more information), Abijah attended the annual Hunter's Hope Candlelight Ball. While attending the Ball, Abijah was able to spend time some wonderful time with Jim and Jill Kelly. Abijah's thank you note reads, "Thank you so much for making my dream come true. I know it was not the easiest task to perform. My family and I had a great time. Jim, Jill and everyone else were great to us."
#44 Will was an excellent high school student. He loves politics, history, math, science, travelling, reading, and spending time with his friends. After a minor sports injury that wasn't getting better, it was discovered that Will had Hodgkin's lymphoma. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments put life on hold for a short while and Will had a somewhat unusual dream request for us. He wanted to meet Rush Limbaugh. The Dream Factory sent Will and his parents to meet the famous radio talk show host, he was able to see how the daily show is produced and spent some quality time talking with Mr. Limbaugh. Will is now a college student and is doing extremely well. Academically and Physically.
#26 Marc has been quadriplegic and ventilator dependant since a spinal cord injury at birth. At the age of 13, after taking nearly two years to decide what he would like from The Dream Factory, Marc finally submitted his application, he wanted to meet The President of The United States. Patience and perseverance won out and in March of 2005 Marc, his family, and two nurses travelled to Washington, DC. and was introduced to President and Laura Bush. It was quite an honor for the whole family and everyone brought home memories, photos, and souvenirs from an incredible trip to the Gettysburg, PA/Washington DC area.
#23 and #24 Merrill and Samuel are brothers living with von Willebraud's disease, a bleeding disorder. Because of their condition, these boys are not able to participate in any type of contact sport. Wrestling was quiet interesting to them because, here's these guys who get knocked down, kicked around, clobbered by furniture, and they get back up again. Any little cut or scrape could be life threatening to these brothers. Thanks to the WWF, Merrill and Samuel were able to meet some of their favorite professional wrestlers, Kane and Rob Van Dam. It was a great experience, perhaps the highlight of their dream was staying at the same hotel as the wrestlers and having the opportunity to speak with them again in the hotel restaurant.
#20 Andrew introduced The Dream Factory of Rochester to the world of professional wrestling. Born with cerebral palsy, Andrew became interested in watching wrestling at a young age and Chris Jericho quickly became his hero. When we sent him to Connecticut to attend a WWE event, little did we know that Andrew would meet Chris Jericho and 13 other professional wrestlers! It was more than any of us could have imagined and as his mother said when they returned, "He'll probably float on this for a long time."
#4 Garrick, was still receiving treatment for his leukemia when we met him. As a 5 year old who loves to help his mom cook, Garrick had an unusual dream, he wanted to meet FoodNetwork's Emeril Lagasse and see a taping of Emeril Live. Thanks to the folks at Good Morning America and Mr. Lagasse, we were able to fulfill Garrick's dream. With Emeril, Garrick prepare potato salad on the streets of Time Square while George Clooney looked on. Garrick added several ingredients to the bowl, including the hot sauce sprinkled in with a special "BAM!" Later in the day, Garrick and his parents watched a taping of Emeril Live. At the end of the show, Garrick was called up to the counter to taste the incredible banana pancakes.