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|David Perron plays foosball at Dream Night with the Blues on Sunday. The event raised more than $70,000 for the Dream Factory (Getty Images). |
At 18 months old, Amber was diagnosed with leukemia and had to endure more than three years of treatment. Once healthy enough, she was whisked away to Disney World, where she enjoyed the rides, met Cinderella and had the time of her life.
She relapsed three years later and went through more rigorous treatment. She lost feeling below her waist and endured brain surgery.
Today, Amber is 12 years old. She’s out of a wheelchair, away from a walker and standing on her own two feet. And although her trip to Disney World was almost eight years ago, she remembers it like it was yesterday.
It’s all thanks to the Dream Factory, an organization that finds seriously ill children and sends them on a dream vacation so that at least temporarily, they forget about their health battles.
On Sunday, the Blues held the 15th Annual Dream Night with the Blues at Side Pockets in St. Charles. For a small donation, fans could challenge players to pool, darts, air hockey or get autographs and photos. All proceeds benefited the Dream Factory.
“It’s fun to interact with the fans and play some games, get some pictures and have fans get to know us more off the ice. It’s fun for everybody,” said David Perron
, who was participating in his third Dream Night event. “We bring a lot of money back to the charity and it’s just an unbelievable event that way.
“It’s very special. There are a lot of kids here that come to see us and are just looking for a smile on their face. To see how happy they are about what we’re doing, it makes it that much more special for us.”
Sunday’s event raised more than $70,000 for the Dream Factory, which has no paid employees. For every dollar raised, 92 cents is put towards granting the dreams of a child.
“What I love about this organization is that it’s 100 percent volunteer. Nobody that has anything to do with this gets paid,” said Becky Shukar, a Dream Factory volunteer. “It’s very special. To think about what these kids and their families go through, it hits you in your heart. You never know what can happen at any time to any family member.”
Thanks to 15 years of participation from the Blues, more than $500,000 has been raised for the Dream Factory.
“We try to give back as much as we can, but this (event) definitely stands out. It’s a lot of fun for the players,” said B.J. Crombeen
. “I think everyone enjoys coming out to this event and working for a great cause.”
In 2006, the Dream Factory sent Dawson Ivanowski and his family to Disney World for a week. While there, he swam with the dolphins at Discover Cove and according to his father, had “one of the best days he ever had.” Dawson passed away in 2007 after a battle with neuroblastoma, but his family is thankful for the support they’ve received from the Dream Factory.
“It’s hard to describe,” said his father, John. “There are a lot of families going through a lot of hard stuff, and we know all about that all too well. I hope these families have as much fun as we did when we went on our trip. I know it means a lot to all these families out there.”
Because of his son’s story, the Ivanowski’s have gotten close to the Blues, especially defenseman Barret Jackman
and Blues alums Rob Ramage and Bob Plager.
“It’s funny how something good can happen from something bad,” John added. “I’d rather not know all these people and I’d rather have my boy back, but at least something good has happened for me.
“(Their support) keeps you going. Dawson wouldn’t want us to stop anyway. He’d want us to get in there and get after it and don’t give up. That’s what we’re doing.”