In The Media

Messages of compassion presented through colorful floral bouquets and bright smiles are among the many ways that a distinctive Dream Foundation program called Flower Empower lets locals know that the community cares.

Since 1994, a group of volunteers has gathered each Saturday at the downtown Santa Barbara Farmers Market, 232 Anacapa St., to skillfully prepare an average of 75 to 100 bouquets using donated flowers from local growers.

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Everyone’s heard of Make-A-Wish Foundation, but I had never heard of the Dream Foundation, which makes dying wishes come true for adults 18 and older.

Then I met two women Thursday whose dreams were to come to Las Vegas, probably for the last time.

One was a mother of three who made a Las Vegas trip her dream so that she could see her children swim with the dolphins at The Mirage. Mindee Paulsen, 37, of Salt Lake City crafted a wish that would make her children happy.

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Palm Desert — For Arne Ljunggren of Palm Desert, learning to play the piano was a dream that simply would not go away.

When he hit the jackpot in 1987 on slot machines in Las Vegas, he spent $2,500 of his winnings to buy a mellow-sounding, ivory-colored Kohler & Campbell upright piano. For the past 25 years, the piano sat in his living room where Ljunggren poked at the keys.

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CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — The Coughlin Family needed a break from reality, and thanks to the Dream Foundation, they are headed to Disney World in Florida.

Bill Coughlin and wife Sarah had always planned to take their daughters Riley, 9, and Payton, 7, to Disney World, but wanted to do it at a time when they were old enough to appreciate and enjoy it.

But when Bill Coughlin was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in November, that time was now.

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UPPER LAKE — The Lake County Wine Studio in downtown Upper Lake is showing colorful, acrylic-on-canvas paintings by Margaret “Peggy” McCamant Alexander, an artist battling a life-altering disease.

Doctors diagnosed Alexander, 64, of Hidden Valley Lake with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in October 2010.

The condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, “is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.

Alexander simply describes ALS as “hell. It’s awful It is a continuous, ongoing loss of yourself.”

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