Seven years ago, Madison Donaghue was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that eventually resulted in the removal of her large intestine. She was in an out of the hospital for weeks at a time, and the stress of her condition put a lot of strain on her family.
In need of assistance and something to keep their family from drifting apart, the Dream Factory stepped in to help. The organization, which grants dreams and wishes to seriously ill children, sent Madison and her family on a dream vacation to Florida.
“Because of the Dream Factory, she got her dream wish. We went to Florida, and anything there was to do there, we ended up doing,” said her father, Ken Donaghue. “With (Madison) in and out of the hospital so much, it really caused a lot of stress on the family. Having all that time (in Florida) really helped bring us all together.”
Today, Madison is 15 years old and lives a normal life. She’s just one example of the many kids whose lives have been improved, at least temporarily, by the Dream Factory.
On Sunday, the Blues participated in an annual event at Side Pockets in St. Charles to raise money for the Dream Factory and Camp Rainbow, a summer camp that gives children with cancer and other illnesses an escape from their struggles.
Tickets to Sunday's event were $25 in advance, and admission gave fans an opportunity to challenge players to video games, arcade games, pool, darts and more. For a small donation, fans could also take photographs with the players or get autographs.
“It’s hard to get one-on-one time with your favorite player, so this gives them the opportunity to get an autograph, talk a little bit and share some funny stories. I think the fans really appreciate it, and we appreciate it,” said Scott Nichol
, who was participating in his first Dream Night event. “Everything this organization does is really first class.”
Added Barret Jackman
, “Anytime you have someone say you’re their favorite player, a lot of times it’s not because of your play but because of the way you treat them, so that’s definitely very special to me.
“The Dream Factory has always been a great event. You get a lot of kids that really appreciate the guys coming out, and all the money raised here benefits kids that are definitely in need of a little pick-me-up.”
The event, which started 18 years ago, was first organized by Becky Schukar. She’s been employed by the Blues for 24 years and also serves as a volunteer for the Dream Factory.
“This is amazing. The Blues have helped us raise over half a million dollars the past 17 years,” Schukar said. “They never say no to anything, and they are there for us with absolutely everything we need.
“These guys understand where they are, they’re grateful for where they are and they want to help the community in any way they can.”
Sunday’s event raised money for the charity organizations through ticket sales, donations, a silent auction and a live jersey auction.
“It’s humbling to see guys who are great at what they do take time out of their schedule to come and give back so that kids can have some happiness and a break from being sick,” said Madison’s mom, Jenni Donaghue. “Your sickness doesn’t end after you get your wish, so these are special days for our family that we get to go and put the illness aside and enjoy.
“It’s really a great charity.”
Added Nichol, “We are really blessed. I have three kids that are healthy, but you never know what’s going to happen. You hate to see little guys and little girls suffering and going through chemo and cancer and stuff like that. If this can brighten their day and give them a little motivation, we’ll do whatever we can do to help.”