A Dream is Born
In 1981 a story went out over the AP wires that 8-year old Fransie Geringer of South Africa, who suffered with the aging disease Progeria, dreamed of meeting his hero Pinocchio. The Sunshine City of Jaycees of St. Petersburg responded by raising the money to bring Fransie and his family to Florida. After the visit, excess funds from the trip were offered to Fransie’s family. However, it was their wish that the funds be used to help other children. It was then that the Suncoast Children’s Dream Fund was born. A group of Jaycees formed this non-profit organization to fulfill the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses on the West Coast of Florida.
In celebrating its 20th year of making dreams come true, the Suncoast Children's Dream Fund changed its name to Children's Dream Fund to reflect the organization’s growth and demonstrate their willingness to reach out to more of Florida’s families.
The Children's Dream Fund fulfills dreams for children ages 3-18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. A child does not have to be terminally ill to qualify for a dream, nor is a dream necessarily the child’s “last wish.” Referrals are received from seven area hospitals, including Shands (Gainesville), Tampa Children’s Hospital at St. Joseph’s, University Community Hospital (Tampa), Tampa General Hospital and All Children’s (St. Petersburg). Following the receipt of an application and verification of diagnosis, the children are interviewed by a Dream Fund staff member.
The types of dreams vary greatly. They may involve meeting a celebrity, a trip, or a gift such as a computer or playground, or our most-requested dream, a week at the Give Kids the World Village, which enables a child to visit all of the Disney-area theme parks. No dream has been refused, except those involving motorized vehicles and firearms.
The Children's Dream Fund operates out of an office in downtown St. Petersburg and in South Tampa and serves children living in 20 counties in West Central Florida. A volunteer board of directors oversees the finances and promotes the organization in the community. The Dream Fund has six full-time employees and hundreds of wonderful volunteers.
The Children's Dream Fund receives its financial support from the community through individual and corporate donations, memorial gifts, direct mail, workplace giving, grants and special events. The Dream Fund undertakes no telemarketing or phone solicitation. Over 83% of every dollar raised went directly to program expenses. A charitable solicitation permit is filed annually with the State of Florida, #CH 1278. Financial information is available upon request.