A Dream Come True — a long-running program that granted the wishes of terminally ill Big Island keiki supported by Hawaii Fire Department personnel — is making a comeback, aided by a local church.
“This program is just too good to let it go,” said Llyod Narimatsu, A Dream Come True president and pastor of Hilo’s Heritage Christian Fellowship, which will take the program under its wing. “Let’s help out Big Island keiki, again.”
A Dream Come True was founded in 1985 by two Hawaii Fire Department personnel, Nelson Tsuji and Lawrence Balberde, with the hope of making dreams come true for terminally ill children on the Big Island, said Gail Kimura, A Dream Come True coordinator. It eventually grew to include the dreams of chronically and critically ill children.
Funding was raised through events at KTA Superstores in Hilo and Kona that offered all-you-can-eat ice cream for just $10, Kimura said.
To jump start the comeback, two ice cream giveaways are slated this month at the Puainakou and Keauhou KTA Superstores. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Hilo store and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Keauhou store.
Donations can be made, but they are not required, Kimura and Narimatsu said. February was also declared A Dream Come True month on Hawaii Island.
“We’re not going to be doing major fundraisers — this is just a way to jump start the program,” Narimatsu said, adding funding for the program will be sought from sponsors and donations. “But, if people want to help … .”
Some 67 children were recipients of the program that fulfilled such dreams as trips to mainland places like Disneyland, as well as items like color TVs, computers and game systems.
Narimatsu said while some children dream of the world, others ask of simple things with the hope of making the lives of their family easier. He remembers one boy who asked only for a washer and dryer so his mother, who didn’t have a vehicle, would no longer have to walk a mile to wash his clothing.
“This one child made me cry and cry,” he said. “This is the kind of stuff that makes it worthwhile.”
Others who took part in the program over the years, like Fire Chief Darren Rosario, fondly remember making dreams come true for Big Island keiki.
“It was something a lot of Fire Department personnel would give up their extra time for,” he said. “It’s just a small way we can give back and putting a smile on the child’s face after so much is priceless.”
In 2004, with the retirement of key personnel from the department, the program was essentially put on hold, with fundraising no longer taking place, Kimura said. However, there were still some funds, the board remained somewhat intact and occasionally, when possible, dreams would be fulfilled by just a handful of personnel and board members.
“They would grant the wish silently,” Kimura said. “The program was not active, though.”
Though on hiatus for nearly 10 years, Hilo’s Heritage Christian Fellowship is bringing A Dream Come True back to the forefront with the support of the Hawaii Fire Department, Kimura said. The program is not run by the department.
Because the program is now under the fellowship, donations will be tax deductible, she said.
Application forms are available at various medical facilities, Heritage Christian Fellowship, located at 165 E. Kawili Street in Hilo, or by contacting Kimura at 961-3959, 217-0413 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Kimura or Heritage Christian Fellowship with questions.