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Kids with cancer: Part IV: Community organizations, individuals provide relief to young patients

— Making dreams come true

Indeed, it’s often everyday volunteers who make the biggest difference in the lives of cancer patients. The Dream Factory is an all-volunteer organization — it has just three full-time and one part-time paid staff members at its national headquarters in Louisville, Ky. — with 38 chapters nationwide, the newest being in the Syracuse area.

“We are just over a year old — we became an official chapter in June of 2012 — so we have a lot of work to do to raise awareness both among the families who have a child suffering from a critical or chronic illness and among the community members who are willing to help us make those dreams possible,” said Dream Factory publicity chair Erin Wisneski of Baldwinsville. “The good news is people are beginning to recognize our name.”

That is good news, indeed, since most of the money that funds the dreams is local; Wisneski said some 91 percent of the funds raised locally stays local, and each chapter operates independently. The nonprofit’s major fundraiser, the Kick for Kids Kickball Tournament, will take place Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Syracuse Sports Association Kickball Fields at 7192 Oswego Road in Liverpool. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.; games start at 10 a.m. The tournament features food, games and entertainment for teams and spectators to enjoy in between contests as well as raffles and a silent auction. The cost is $25 per person or $275 for an entire team of 11 people (each team needs a minimum of four girls and four guys).Visit syracusesportsassociation.com for more information. The tournament funds efforts to fulfill the dreams of local kids, like 17-year-old Sarah, who wants to meet Liam Neeson.

The Dream Factory doesn’t just serve kids with cancer; any child with a critical or chronic illness is eligible to have their wish granted. Locally, the nonprofit has fulfilled the dreams of a 9-year-old Emma Louise of Liverpool, who is living with Type I diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness; the Dream Factory sent her and her family to Give Kids the World, where they were able to visit Disney World, Universal Studios and other Orlando-area theme parks. Nationwide, the 30-year-old Dream Factory has granted more than 25,000 dreams to children ages 3 to 18.

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