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Dream Foundation to Grant Dying Houston Woman’s Final Dream for Galveston Thanksgiving with Family and Friends

Dream Foundation—the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness—will fulfill Deborah Martin’s dream to share Thanksgiving dinner with those she loves during a family reunion at the beach.

The 52-year-old Houston resident—who will be staying in Galveston with her family the week of Thanksgiving—is facing a prognosis of six months or less in her battle with autoimmune hepatitis. With doctor’s appointments, treatments and mounting medical bills, she was unable to bring her large family together for the holiday without help.

On Thursday, November 27, Dream Foundation will provide the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast for Martin and 23 relatives. The group will begin preparing their meal at approximately 12 p.m. Press is invited to attend. The location is 3118 Ave S, Galveston, Texas 77550. According to Martin,

Thanksgiving—especially this year—holds special significance for her. “This year it falls on my mom’s death anniversary,” she writes in an application letter to Dream Foundation. “Mom was my best friend in the world. She died the Saturday after Thanksgiving and ever since her death, this holiday has not been the same. My father is turning 80 this year and it would make me happy if he could see that our family is close once more.”

A hospice patient, Martin says she contracted hepatitis C from the multiple blood transfusions she received during the birth of her eldest son in the 1980s. She says her health has deteriorated significantly in the last three years.

“There is not much more I can do to ‘fix’ what is wrong with me,” she continues in her application letter. “I do not want my family to reunite at my funeral; I want to experience life with them. I crave another look at the ocean, to feel the breeze and walk on the sand with my bare feet. I need the loving support of my family around my sons and me. I want my sons to know that they will have a support system when the time comes in their lives when I will no longer be around.”

According to Dream Foundation Executive Director Kisa Heyer, Martin’s dream to come together with her family for the holiday perfectly conveys the simplicity of many requests the foundation receives. “A dream for an adult is often a humble request,” Heyer says. “At the end of the day it’s about gathering with loved ones over a special meal, spending a special holiday together.”

Dream Foundation to Grant Dying Florida Woman’s Final Dream for Orlando Thanksgiving with Family

Dream Foundation—the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness—will fulfill Evelyn Gardner’s dream to share Thanksgiving with her loved ones during a family getaway to Orlando.

The 68-year-old Mount Dora, Florida resident—who will be visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando with her husband, children and grandchildren the week of Thanksgiving—is facing a prognosis of one year or less in her battle with stage IV small cell lung cancer. With doctor’s appointments, treatments and mounting medical bills, she was unable to bring them all together for the holiday without help.

At 6:30 p.m., Thursday, November 27, Gardner and her nine relatives will break from their theme park vacation to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together at Mimi’s Café, 4175 Millenia Blvd., Orlando. Press is invited to attend.

According to Gardner, Thanksgiving—especially this year—holds special significance. “It’s been more than three years since my entire family has been together for Thanksgiving,” she says. “Being able to spend the holiday together this year means the world to me. They are looking forward to it and so am I.”

According to Dream Foundation Executive Director Kisa Heyer, Gardner’s dream to come together with her family for a holiday perfectly conveys the simplicity of many requests the foundation receives. “A dream for an adult is often a request to make memories with loved ones, especially children and grandchildren,” Heyer says. “At the end of the day it’s about gathering with loved ones over a special meal, spending a holiday together.”

Genentech’s ‘Laps for Living’ at Motiva Motor Speedway Aims to Raise Funds for Dream Foundation

Dream Foundation—the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness—will be the sole beneficiary of Genentech’s 4th Annual ‘Laps for Living’ event, which will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Albuquerque’s Motiva Motor Speedway. Press is invited to attend. The drivers will be on-hand for interviews. 

Started in 2011 by Her2 Franchise Division Manager David Polei after learning about Dream Foundation at Genentech’s annual national sales meeting, Laps for Living raises funds to make terminally ill adults’ final dreams come true.

“This year, nine of us will be driving Legend racecars,” Polei says. “Each driver pays all expenses associated with this event. We will be driving 50 laps each to raise funds. I was inspired by the mission of Dream Foundation from the get-go, and I wanted to find an opportunity to raise funds for the organization.”

The idea behind Laps for Living came from Polei’s lifelong hobby of racing motorcycles.

“For our first event, five of us went to North Carolina and drove dirt cars for the day,” Polei continues,.“We raised $500. The next year we drove indie cars in Orlando. Last year we drove NASCARs at the Texas Motor Speedway. We’re committed to doing this every year.”

Saturday’s drivers are five Genentech employees and four others, including three Albuquerque residents.

John Paul DeJoria Pledges $100K to Dream Foundation to Serve the Final Dreams of U.S. Military Veterans

Getty Images

John Paul DeJoria and Dream Foundation’s Executive Director Kisa Heyer. (Photo: Getty Images)

Dream Foundation—the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness—has received a $100,000 contribution to continue serving the final dreams of U.S. military veterans.

The gift comes from the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company, John Paul DeJoria, who pledged the support November 8th at Dream Foundation’s 20th Annual Celebration of Dreams Gala, where he was being honored with the 2014 Humanitarian Award for his dedicated service to the organization over the past 10 years.

“Veterans of this nation put their lives on the line every day to help maintain our way of life,” DeJoria said. “On behalf of the families at John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company, and as a veteran myself, it is with great pride that I make this donation to help the new division of Dream Foundation flourish on behalf of veterans nationwide.”

DeJoria’s gift comes as Dream Foundation prepares to launch a new sub-program called Dreams for Veterans, which effectively tailors the dream experience to veterans and their families and will launch officially in Spring 2015.

To date, dreams for U.S. military veterans dreams have been made possible and will continue to be delivered via support in part from Corporate Partner in Dreams CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants) and its annual Stars for Heroes fundraising campaign. CKE CEO Andy Puzder has been a long time supporter of Dream Foundation.

“It is a privilege to have served the final dreams of more than 20,000 adults including thousands of veterans and their families,” says Kisa Heyer, Executive Director of Dream Foundation. “Having learned the importance of acknowledging veterans and honoring their service over the years, we are inspired and committed to continue giving back to terminally ill veterans and their families through the fulfillment of a final dream.”

Dreams for Veterans will provide the invaluable opportunity to honor veterans’ service while engaging, honoring and appreciating their families and communities. Dream recipients are U.S. military veterans 18 years or older with a life expectancy of 12 months or less. Final dreams range from basic needs items such as a mobility scooter, lift chair, working appliance or laptop, to bedside reunions, final vacations with family, meeting a personal hero, or reconnecting with aspects of former military service.

In addition to his generosity toward Dream Foundation, DeJoria supports a multitude of organizations dedicated to helping others, including the solely-funded philanthropic venture, Grow Appalachia, which aims to empower the hunger-stricken people of Appalachia by providing skills and resources to grow, prepare and preserve organic, nutritious food.

DeJoria, who came from humble beginnings, regularly supports the Los Angeles community where he grew up. His ongoing support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he spent much of his time as a child, includes funding the renovation of his hometown, Echo Park, CA Variety Boys & Girls Club location. He also takes great pride in his support of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Chrysalis, dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment.

Dream Foundation Celebrates its 20th Anniversary by Honoring Strength and Spirit of 20,000 Dream Recipients

Dream Foundation's 13th Annual Celebration of Dreams Gala

John Paul DeJoria honored with 2014 Humanitarian Award (Photo: Getty Images)

Dream Foundation – the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness – held its 20th Anniversary Celebration of Dreams Gala on November 8th with 500 guests from around the country in attendance at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. Guests included Priscilla Presley, Nigel Lythgoe, Ivan Reitman, Tanya Callau Thicke, Eloise DeJoria, Ludi Delfino and CKE CEO Andy Puzder, long-time supporter and 2013 Dream Foundation Outstanding Corporate Partner honoree.

The evening featured a celebrity red carpet, silent and live auctions, world-class entertainment and moving testimonials from Dream Foundation friends and supporters. Dream Foundation’s Annual Celebration of Dreams Gala net proceeds are vital to supporting the program, which receives no federal or state funding and relies solely on corporate and individual contributions and grants. Dream Foundation has never turned down a qualified dream request.

With the support of event sponsors Alma Rosa Winery, Bacara Resort & Spa, Beau Joie Champagne, Bell Town Wine, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Magnolia Event Design, O’Gara Coach Westlake, Rolls-Royce & Bentley Westlake, Patrón Tequila, St. Juliette Winery, Walter Claudio Salon Spa and 53 individual commitments, to help raise vital funds. “This year’s combined upper-level sponsorship is more successful than ever before – a true testament to a belief in our mission,” says Dream Foundation Executive Director, Kisa Heyer. “In 20 years, not one single qualified applicant has been turned away and more than 20,000 dreams have been served. The work we do would not be possible without the collective generosity of our patrons and sponsors.”

Dream Foundation honored co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company, John Paul DeJoria with the 2014 Humanitarian Award and leading biotechnology company, Genentech with the 2014 Outstanding Corporate Partner Award.

John Paul DeJoria graciously accepted his award from friend Bill Nicholson, longtime Dream Foundation supporter and Dream Maker. A video beforehand highlighted DeJoria’s tremendous philanthropic work across the world. “Giving Back is the New Black” it said, and DeJoria certainly wears it well! During his acceptance and in addition to his 10+ years of contributions and dedication, he spontaneously donated $100,000 to Dream Foundation’s latest project, Dreams For Veterans. The audience erupted in a standing ovation of gratitude.

Dream Foundation's 13th Annual Celebration of Dreams Gala

Nigel Lythgoe with Dream Foundation Ambassador Priscilla Presley (Photo: Getty Images)

The generous contribution will further support dreams for U.S. military veterans which were made possible to date and will continue to be delivered via support in part from partners such as CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants) and its annual Stars for Heroes fundraising campaign.

Shelley Piccolo, widow of former dream recipient, Brian Piccolo, presented Tanum Davis, Associate Director of Bio Oncology Strategy of Genentech with the award. Piccolo’s final dream, a family trip to Disney World was fulfilled thanks to the help of Genentech’s volunteers, funds and dedication. “It was a privilege to honor a company that has been a vital contributor to Dream Foundation’s success for the past 8 years. We simply would not be where we are today without them,” Heyer says.

“Righteous Brother” Bill Medley and daughter, McKenna Medley performed “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” together to start the evening off. KT Tunstall took the stage next with an energetic performance of “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See” that had audience members strutting down the runway. David Ryan Harris closed the evening with a soulful performance of “Shelter” and “Still Be Loving You” leaving guests captivated and reflective of the amazing evening.

Andrew Firestone and wife, Ivana Bozilovic got the room to open their hearts and support dreams during the live auction that included a 6-night getaway to Fiji, an intimate evening at renowned director/producer, Ivan Reitman and his wife, Genevieve’s home for delicious food fare and a private screening and five other unique experiences. The live auction brought in a total of $112, 750.00 to assist with future dreams. The silent auction comprised of 63 different luxury items brought in $71,700.00 and an additional $131,375.00 was also raised to benefit Dream Foundation’s Flower Empower, Toy and Dream Maker programs, that which are essential to enriching our dream recipient’s final journey.

After a retrospective video encompassing Dream Foundation’s 20-year history, gala committee member and KEYT News Channel 23 anchor, Shirin Rajaee introduced former dream recipients, Richard Mackin and Chritianne Adamik. Both shared touching stories of how Dream Foundation had touched their lives and given their families lasting memories. The evening also looked back in remembrance of 20,000 dreamers and their families, while taking a look forward to coming years. Dream Foundation’s Executive Director Kisa Heyer shared exciting plans to dream bigger than ever by expanding the program’s reach with the goal to provide care, comfort, and closure to ultimately more adults and their families.

The gala after-party was held in the spectacularly transformed Bacara Lobby with DJ Chris Cox spinning remixes for a full dance floor, sprits by Beau Joie Champagne and Patrón Tequila and late night bites from Carl’s Jr.® Star Diner and ProYo.

Images from the evening can be found at GettyImages.com.

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