There have been a lot of kids in Sooke who have had their dreams come true. Just this month, Nicole Bottles, a bright young woman currently dealing with Lyme disease related issues got her dream. She wanted to go whale watching in Baja, California and the Help Fill a Dream Foundation made it happen for her.
Denyse Koo, is president of the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, and she knows so many Sooke who have been helped.
“We’ve helped a lot of different Sooke kids,” says Koo. Last year was the foundation’s 25th anniversary and Koo said, “it’s surprising how many kids I’ve known from Sooke.”
Koo lives in Sooke and was previously the program coordinator for the Sooke Family Resource Society.
Koo is no stranger to the foundation. She knew about the Help Fill a Dream Foundation since the first year of operation and she said the first person they gave a dream to was one of her patients in the hospital. Familiar faces in Sooke include: Carter, a young man with cystic fibrosis; Scott Osselton who battled leukemia, Nicole Bottles with Lyme disease, Daisy Irwin with a rare cancer, and scores of other kids.
The foundation grants dreams for children on Vancouver Island under the age of 19 with
life-threatening conditions. Over the years, they’ve helped over 1,900 children realize their dreams. They find out about the kids through referrals from hospitals and social workers.
Filling dreams is not the only aim of the foundation. They also provide a continuum of care. Often the response to the call for help is within two hours.
When a child is first hospitalized, the foundation will help with travel and accommodation expenses for parents. They also help with food cards for groceries and if needed child care for other kids in the family.
The foundation also helps with special projects when a child is coming home, like ramps, wheel chairs, special adaptations in the home.
“We started to helping pay for diabetes insulin pumps, before the medical system kicks in,” said Koo.
And of course the dreams. The most popular place for kids is, of course, Disneyland. Now, said Koo the kids want to meet their heroes or go to concerts. They will even supply gaming stations for kids who cannot be around other kids because of suppressed immune systems.
“We look at all of these as dreams. We feel all events are fulfilling a family dream.”
From March 31 to April 1, the foundation takes part in fundraising through Rink of Dreams at Bear Mountain Arena. This is 24 hours of hockey with teams booked in for 45 minutes each. Groups are formed and teams play against each other. There is also a silent auction, the popular balloon pop and the puck drop for a car. The kids do the puck drop for a bicycle. To raise funds they also host a golf tournament, get donations from the Oak Bay half-marathon, and receive funds from Victoria transit drivers and employees. The Help Fill a dream Foundation was started 25-years-ago by transit driver Rick Thomas, who became acquainted with a seven-year-old passenger who was suffering with a terminal illness.
“Any way we can help these families we do,” said Koo. “You feel so helpless, it tears parents’ hearts out to witness children who have done nothing to bring this onto themselves.”
Koo also said she wishes they had a bigger budget so they could help others besides kids.
Help Fill a dream Foundation has become a champion for families in medical crisis situations.
“They are always so surprised, so pleased when they get help,” said Koo. “It makes all the difference in the world.”
Nicole Bottles left for Baja on March 15 carrying a camera and a back pack given to her by the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.
“She was so excited,” said Koo.
For more information on the Help Fill a Dream Foundation do to: www.helpfilladream.com, or call toll-free to 1-866-382-2711,email: email@example.com.
Programs of the Help Fill a Dream Foundation
The Dreams Program has offered trips ranging from family visits to Disneyland to the opportunity to meet with an admired celebrity, to a backyard fairy garden, or to dreams such as Joel had: to go camping with his family.
The Family Assistance Program provides immediate or emergency assistance to families in extreme financial difficulty in order to ease the burden of unexpected costs associated with a child’s life-threatening medical condition. Funds are provided for items such as groceries, gas and travel.
The Special Projects Program provides assistance that improves the quality of life for a child with a life-threatening medical condition. This may include special medical equipment for mobility or stationary support and medical supplies. It may also include funding nternational medical trips.