The Greatest Gift of All: Boys and Girls Living With Illness or Trauma Get a Christmas Surprise

A group of 100 children and their families gathered around the windows of an airplane hanger outside of Pittsburgh, PA, eyes trained on the small plane that just landed. A couple men and women in festive holiday get-ups stepped out, and then came the couple of the hour: Santa and Mrs. Claus!


The occasion was Christmas to Remember, a party put on by a local nonprofit called Jamie's Dream Team, and Santa's arrival was just one of many surprises for the party's guests of honor: young girls and boys living with serious illness, injury, disability or trauma. Guests enjoyed a free lunch and drinks, and all kids in attendance received a bag of gifts based on their wish list, including siblings! With its display of compassion and generosity, the Christmas to Remember party exemplifies the work of Jamie's Dream Team.

Started by a young woman named Jamie Holmes, Jamie's Dream Team is a 100% volunteer-run nonprofit organization with an inspiring goal:

The mission of Jamie's Dream Team is to offer hope when there is little, to ease the burden caused by serious illness, injury, disability, trauma, or catastrophic events, and to finally celebrate individual differences by acknowledging dreams as possibilities.

The importance of dreams to young people in heartbreaking circumstances is something that Jamie Holmes is very familiar with.


As a kid, Jamie spent a ton of time in hospitals and in recovery from surgeries. A rare disorder known as V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome meant that Jamie had congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus, and kidneys—and that, at age 31, she has had more than 45 medical procedures. It was through the kindness of others that Jamie found the strength to thrive despite her physical condition.

"I have been very fortunate," she says. "When friends and family showed up to support me with balloons and other gifts, I felt like a Princess. I remember wanting to share this feeling of joy with the other kids at Children's Hospital that I would meet."
So that's what she did: she used her experiences as inspiration to create Jamie's Dream Team. "I know personally that fulfilling 'dreams' is the best healing of all, as receiving a 'dream' helps heal the spirit," she explains.

In addition to working with individual families to make dreams happen, Jamie's Dream Team also puts on events like the Christmas to Remember party. You can learn more and support the non-profit organization by visiting their website.
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