Since 1985, The Dream Connection, Inc. has been fulfilling the once-in-a-lifetime dream of children in East Tennessee between the ages of three and seventeen with life-threatening or chronically debilitating illnesses. One of those children is Haven Woods. Haven has dealt with a great deal of adversity due to her medical problems. But it doesn’t stop the smile on this pint-sized wonder’s face! Her gentle and joyous personality is so engaging that Dream Connection co-captain Samantha Houghton was taken aback when Haven said that her dream was to meet WWE wrestler John Cena.
Dreams to meet personalities can be especially challenging. However, long-time volunteer Jim Albanese had the good fortune of making a random connection during his work as a police detective to make this possible. In January, Haven and her family made the trip to Birmingham, where they explored the surrounding museums and activities before experiencing the highlight of the trip—the WWE Live and a meet and greet with John Cena. Her mother Rebecca reported, “She met so many superstars and had such a great time!”
One hundred percent of contributions to The Dream Connection go to the dreams of children. This wish-granting organization is local and all-volunteer. Without the advantages of paid staff or national recognition, The Dream Connection works hard with the ingenuity of people like Jim, and the support of people and organizations in our community. Haven’s dream was made possible through a grant from The Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee Foundation.
About The Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee Foundation
The families of Emily Barger and Maddie Harrill established the Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee Foundation in memory of their daughters. Both of these beautiful little girls were diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, in 2007. Sadly, both of these girls passed away just weeks apart during the summer of 2008.
The Butterfly Fund supports research, treatment and services dedicated to the defeat of childhood cancers. In addition to their donation to The Dream Connection, they have donated more than $215,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and $20,000 to CureSearch.
Visit butterflyfund.org to learn more.