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Blues Assist in Making Dreams Come True

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Nine-year-old Brendan Meissner plays bowling on Nintendo Wii with Blues rookie T.J. Oshie at the 14th Annual Dream Night with the Blues on Sunday.
Video: 14th Annual Dream Night
Photo Gallery: Dream Night with the Blues
You Can Help: Donate to the Dream Factory
Brendan Meissner didn’t have much to say, but the smile on his face said it all.

In less than three hours Sunday, the nine-year-old had played table tennis with Chris Mason and bowled with T.J. Oshie.

Both games were played on the Nintendo Wii, but that didn’t make it any less special. Afterwards, Meissner was speechless and grinning from ear-to-ear.

“It all makes it worth it,” said his mother, Barb Spradling. “He’ll be talking about this when he’s older, that he got to play (video games) with Blues players. It’s pretty exciting.”

Meissner was just one of hundreds who spent the afternoon at Side Pockets in St. Charles to meet the Blues and challenge them to video games, pool and more at the 14th Annual Dream Night with the Blues. The event, sponsored by the Washington University School of Medicine-Orthopedics, is designed to raise money for the St. Louis chapter of the Dream Factory, an organization that sends terminally ill children on worry-free dream vacations, whether it’s Disney World, meet-and-greets with celebrities, sporting events and more.

“This is awesome. It’s so much fun and to see the kids and be able to play with them and interact, it’s just unbelievable,” said Mason. “We’re honored and lucky to be part of this. Being a parent myself, I also enjoy seeing the parents’ reaction, watching their kids have a great time, smile and play video games. You can’t beat it.”

Tickets sold out in advance for the first time in the events’ 14-year history. Once inside, fans donated $5 for each autograph or game played with a member of the team. Combined with live and silent auctions, the event raised more than $45,000 for the Dream Factory.

“I’m just really proud that we have such a great group of players and fans who support us every year,” said Becky Shukar, a volunteer who played a large part in the creation of the event 14 years ago. “I thought it would be a great way to raise a lot of money for kids by having the Blues be part of the fundraising.”

The Dream Factory has no paid employees and is strictly a volunteer organization. For every dollar donated, 92 cents goes directly to children in need, while the rest takes care of office expenses.

For Blues rookie T.J. Oshie, Sunday’s event was an experience he said he was happy to be involved in.

“Especially when it’s for such a good cause,” he said. “There are so many great causes out there, but I think this one is pretty special.”

The feeling was mutual for Blues captain Eric Brewer, who said giving back to the community is just part of being a pro.

“At the end of the day, (players) can choose to do what they want to do, but I think this is very indicative of the way the hockey community is,” Brewer said. “The guys are especially grateful for the opportunities the game has provided us. We’re more than happy to spend our time with the people who continually support us and watch us play.”

“This should be mandatory for all teams, and I’m so proud to be a Blue and that they take this much pride in the community,” Mason added. “To let the people know that we appreciate their support, and for us to be able to tell them in person and hang out and do these kinds of things is remarkable.

“We’re honored to be part of it.”

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