STORIES BY KAITLYNE PIPER

Dreams Come True

Published: Nov. 9, 2020

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COVID-19 has placed a small setback on Dreams Come True granting children’s wishes. The organization was founded in 1984 and has helped thousands of children fulfill their dreams, and they are not stopping anytime soon.

The organization runs solely on funding from the community. Therefore, donations are critical to grant children wishes. The organization helps children who are referred by a physician and are between the ages of two and 18. Dreams are granted to children that are facing illnesses like cancer, neurological disorders and other life-threatening medical conditions.

Dreams Come True logo. Photo by Kaitlyne Piper.

Unlike other organizations, Dreams Come True has no waitlist and no qualified child has ever been denied.

COVID-19 has prevented dreams from coming true, but the organization has come up with “Special Times,” which is still fulfilling dreams, just on a smaller scale. This includes things like gift cards, tickets to special events and all sorts of celebrations.

“It also reminds the children and their families that they are special and loved,” said Andrea Siracusa, Dreams Come True Director of Community Relations.

The goal of Special Times is to help families escape reality for a while. Special Times are given before and after the dream of a child is granted, because their struggles do not end just by having their wish fulfilled. 

This is one example of how Dreams Come True helps brave children live happier lives. Another way they help is by donating equipment for children in need.

Dreams Come True gifted  Dr. Marion Landua-Figueroa’s daughter Caila a fully customized Axiom Racer dream jogging chair. 

Caila is only 5 years old and suffered brain damage caused by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). This made Caila a wheelchair user and has caused her to suffer from seizures. Although she is nonverbal, the smile on her face while in her new chair spoke for itself. 

Marion Landua-Figueroa (Left), Ainsley Angels member (Right), Caila Landua-Figueroa (Below), and the newly gifted jogging chair. Photo by Kaitlyne Piper.

Marion Landua-Figueroa (Left), Ainsley Angels member (Right), Caila Landua-Figueroa (Below), and the newly gifted jogging chair. Photo by Kaitlyne Piper.

“With the new chair she was just like smiling the whole time,” said Marion Landua-Figueroa after finishing the 5k run with her daughter in the new jogging chair.

Dreams Come True is Florida’s very own fairy godmother, and the effort they put toward each child they help is truly something special.

Kicking Up Fitness

Published: Oct. 16, 2020

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iLoveKickboxing is different from other types of workouts and is better than most diets.

The instructors are welcoming and work with you to understand your workout goals. Even if you have no idea where to start, the instructors help you learn the right way. 

The studio is equipped with everything you may need, from gloves, wraps and shirts. 

Each class is different from the last, so the workout never gets boring. The studio pushes you to invest in yourself and helps you realize that you can accomplish your goals.

iLoveKickBoxing gear. Photo by Kaitlyne Piper.

“How we try to encourage everyone is by first building a relationship with you. We want you to feel comfortable when you’re on the mat, so you’re going to trust us when we’re trying to help you,” said Dante Cora, an iLoveKickboxing instructor.

These workouts are customizable to each person, whether it be a beginner, an athlete and or someone in between. The best part is you can work at your own pace. No matter your gender, there are classes available.

To start your journey, you can take one class or multiple classes a week. The studio is open seven days a week and there is a monthly membership available. If you sign up for the membership, you can receive access to unlimited classes and even a free pair of boxing gloves. 

During the month of October, iLoveKickboxing likes to give out pink gloves in support of breast cancer awareness month.

No matter what part of your workout journey you are in, they will support you every step of the way. As soon as you enter, there is a wall of success stories from local men and women in Jacksonville. The instructors have even more stories to tell, and some members have no trouble telling you their own. So, if you are feeling hesitant about joining, you have plenty of life changing stories to persuade you.

iLoveKickBoxing mat area. Photo by Kaitlyne Piper.

The workout starts with a warmup. This includes running around the mat, jumping jacks and burpees to get your blood flowing. 

Then, the workout moves into bag work. This is where the gloves come in. The instructors create exercises that work out the entire body. You can expect to be sore all over, especially in the arms and legs. 

To create a sense of community and motivation, the class ends with partner drills. This is where one encourages the other to push themselves to show off what they have learned.

iLoveKickboxing uses heart rate monitoring technology during the class to help you figure out where you want to be during your workout. A summary of your workout is emailed to you after each class. The email shows things like your heart rate throughout the workout and calories burned.

This is not like other fitness journeys – you will want to keep coming back for more. This studio has helped change the lives of hardworking people in the Jacksonville community.