Sarah Lahtinen likes to look on the positive side.
“Dreams Come True has been so great with just providing her a way to still be a kid even though she was going through such intense treatments,” Lahtinen said.
Lahtinen’s daughter Savannah was diagnosed with Metastatic Ewing sarcoma, a life-threatening disease that requires constant in-patient stays.
That’s when the Lahtinen family was paired up with Dreams Come True.
Dreams Come True is a non-profit in Jacksonville that pays for children to achieve their wishes. This can range from cruises to trips to Disney World.
Andrea Siracusa, the director of community relations, believes that the power of dreams can help children battling diseases.
“I think the best thing and most rewarding thing for us is that we’re giving these children hope,” Siracusa said.
According to Siracusa, not having to worry about their battle for a week as they go on their dream can bring new light to their eyes.
“Ashley [employee] would bring little things for Savannah,” Lahtinen said, “She’s always made Savannah smile. She’s a ray of sunshine and Savannah would kind of light up.”
Lahtinen believes that Savannah is able to still be a kid despite her illness thanks to Dreams Come True.
“Savannah got to participate in Dream Day,” Lahtinen said, “She got to ride in the car and walk down a red carpet with people screaming and cheering for her.”
Dream Day is just one of the events Dreams Come True participates in. A 5K is held in order to raise money, shopping sprees are held for children, and food and gifts are sent to the families for holidays.
“The great thing about Dreams Come True, what makes us very unique, is that we have never denied an eligible child a dream and we’ve never started a waitlist,” Siracusa said.
Thanks to the community, over 4,000 children have achieved their dreams.
And what is Savannah’s dream?
Well, she and her family are looking forward to their Disney Cruise.