The Children’s Dream Fund hosted our 8th Annual Dreammaker Luncheon presented by Raymond James on March 1, at the Bryan Glazer JCC. Over 400 guests attended the lively event that was decorated in vibrant colors in honor of our 2019 Dreammaker, President of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart.
The 4th generation “caretaker” of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Mr. Gonzmart has a made a significant impact on seriously ill children in the Tampa Bay area through his support of the Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. The AYA Program is dedicated to raising funds for research in adolescent and young adult sarcoma. Mr. Gonzmart joined the distinguished group of Dreammakers that includes 2018 winner Joe Maddon, Henri Landwirth, The 13 Ugly Men, Bob Dutkowsky, The Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff & Penny Vinik and Dr. Jerry Barbosa.
The luncheon began with a welcome from WTVT Fox 13’s News Anchor Mark Wilson, who has been a great supporter of the Children’s Dream Fund for many years. Mark Wilson was followed by past Board of Director’s Chairman Andy Williams who gave a beautiful invocation, then an introduction to the Children’s Dream Fund by Executive Director, Cynthia Lake Farrell. The most memorable moment of the event was when 20-year-old former Dream Child, Agata Lendzisewski, delivered her emotional speech detailing her journey through leukemia.
Agata was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia during her senior year of high school. Over a year into her chemotherapy treatment, she became extremely ill, and on the day of Agata’s 19th birthday, she fell into a two-month-long coma. From the article of her journey by John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, “She went to sleep in January and woke up in March.” She became a walking miracle when she woke up from her coma.
Agata first met her Dream Coordinator not long after her coma and knew instantly she wanted her dream to be a trip to Hawaii. Agata said, “I couldn’t help but cry, I felt like I was actually dreaming,” when she was told all of the details of her Hawaii dream. Within a few months, Agata was on a plane with her family to her dream-come-true. She was able to swim with dolphins, explore the beautiful island and have a much-deserved break from her illness, doctors, and hospitals. After her trip, she said, “I could only fantasize in my head about the things the Children’s Dream Fund made a reality to me.”
Her story brought almost everyone in the room to tears, and with the help of a Call for Support from Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld, the donors gave over $170,000 to help make dreams come true for seriously ill children in our community. The success of the event was seen by the addition of six new Dream Sponsors, a donation of $4,000 or more, each of whom received a private dinner for eight at Tampa restaurant Ulele hosted by Richard Gonzmart.
We are so incredibly thankful to all of our sponsors, donors, and attendees who made this event the huge success that it was. You are all Dreammakers to us!