Sometimes, the things that can be so devastating in life turn out to be the most motivating force you can find. I was very fortunate to meet Ann Winn, a life-long Methuen resident, nurse, wife, and mother.
Eleven years ago, Ann became a grandmother to Alexus Afonso, a student at the Marsh Grammar School, who was born with Down syndrome.
Through the years, Alexus was fortunate enough to go to many places with her grandparents. But Ann realized that many children who are afflicted with life-altering or chronic conditions are not as lucky. Ann did some research and found the answer in The Dream Factory, Inc.
The Dream Factory is a national volunteerbased, wish-granting organization for critically and chronically ill children, ages 3 to 18.
So Ann Winn started the Merrimack Valley chapter in April of 2005, trying to grant wishes to our area children.
The Dream Factory is based in Louisville, Ky. It has over 30 chapters in seventeen states. The Dream Factory has granted wish-es to more than 25,000 children and has more than 5,000 volunteers who work to produce and deliver dreams. The Dream factory was founded in 1980 by Charles Henault.
Ann works four hours a night at her home trying to move the chapter forward, but she needs our help. Ann is fortunate to have found two Methuen High School stu-dents who feel her passion. Rebecca Robin-son and Samantha Kingsley organize two meetings per week, starting at 7 a.m., before the first bell of school begins. Pretty impressive, isnt it?
Through their fundraising, the two high school students granted a wish to Brian Kelly, an 18-year-old boy with CP/epilepsy. He wanted a TV and VCR with a stand.
North Andover High student Rachel Morrison is another dedicated person and has organized a faculty/student basketball game for March 14th at the North Andover High School to benefit the Dream Factory. Anyone interested in attending the game should contact the North Andover High School athletic department at (978) 794-3144.
Ann would like to create a greater awareness of this special organization and asks for whatever you can do in the way of donations or volunteering.
These are a list of some wishes our young people have requested:
Haverhill - Shamus, a 10-year-old boy, wants to swim with the dolphins in Florida.
Ashleigh, a 9-year-old girl, wants to go to Disney World.
Lowell - David, a 13-year-old boy, wants to see a NASCAR race in Louden.
The following wishes have been granted:
In August, an 11-year-old boy from Lawrence visited Disney World. He is autistic and suffers from cardiomyopathy.
In September, a 13-year-old boy from Haverhill attended a Nextel race in Louden. He suffers from tuberous sclerosis.
In October, a North Andover girl received a seeing-eye dog.
In November, a Methuen girl received a therapeutic hot tub. She suffers from cerebral palsy.
In December, an 11-year-old girl from Methuen received a shopping spree at the mall. She suffers from recurrent Negro blastoma.
And in March, a 5-year-old Westford girl went to Walt Disney World. She has a seizure disorder.
The Dream Factory invites everyone to participate in the following two fundraisers: 1. Sunday March 19th, 3-8 p.m. at Perpetual Motion, 345 Chelmsford St., Lowell, MA (978)-450-0777, $10.00, 50% donated to the Merrimack Valley Dream Factory. 2. Monday, March 20th, 4-10 p.m. at Texas Roadhouse Restaurant, Route 28, Methuen, 15% of purchase will be donated to The Dream Factory.
In our busy lives, we are concerned with everyday issues that pertain to us. How often do we stop and think about the children that are less fortunate? With just a little time or donation we can make some deserving kids dreams come true. Come on, Merrimack Valley, lets help Anns organization continue to grow. For more information call Ann Winn at 978-685-9561.
Debbie Quinn is a West District Councilor in Methuen and is serving in her first term. You can email comments or questions to Councilor Quinn at: DRQ76@aol.com
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com