When Shannon Treasurer first heard that Deliver the Dream would send her family to camp together, for free, the mother of three was skeptical.
“My husband had to work that weekend, and so it was just me managing three kids, one with special needs,” says Ms. Treasurer, who lives in Asheville, N.C. “I thought, I really don’t know if I want to do this.”
However, Ms. Treasurer was won over by the nonprofit organization’s mission to send families coping with serious illness or crises to free weekend retreats to rest, relax, and play together—or, as the charity’s Web site puts it, “just be families and kids again.”
Ultimately she was delighted with the weekend that she, her daughter, Bina (who has cerebral palsy), Bina’s twin brother Alex, and baby Ian experienced as Deliver the Dream’s guests.
“We spent quality time as a family, but the staff and volunteers also created quality adult time—which is rare,” Ms. Treasurer says. “They help you to not think about all the kind of stuff that’s going on back in your life and enable you to focus and be present and enjoy the moment. Which, with a special-needs child, is an ongoing challenge.”
Deliver the Dream, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., began organizing retreats in 2002 and has served more than 1,100 families.
“When you take on retreat 15 families who are all dealing with the same situation, it gives them an opportunity to connect with each other and create their own support system that they otherwise would not necessarily have in a medical environment,” says Paul Withrow, the charity’s executive director. “For instance, we provide a retreat for families who have lost a parent or a sibling due to suicide. They’re all facing the same guilt and feelings associated with that loss and needing that connection with others who relate intimately and exactly with what it is they’re going through.”
The organization, with an annual operating budget of just over $1-million, raises 90 percent of its support from individuals, nearly half of that through special events. The remainder comes from foundations and corporations.
Here, Ms. Treasurer helps Bina mount the rock-wall challenge climb at a retreat in northern Georgia. Says Ms. Treasurer, “Bina’s twin brother was intimidated over trying the rock wall, but Bina couldn’t wait to get up there!"