Dreams are Motivation
Kids across the New York area are heading back to school. Many of these kids and their families are facing big challenges. Garden of Dreams has helped over 400,000 young people in the tri-state area overcome these challenges and achieve their biggest dreams. Mario, Matthew, Samantha, and Sebastian are a few of those kids. Despite the obstacles standing in their way, they have never given up on their dreams.
Mario, a Bronx-native, has been part of the Garden of Dreams family since childhood through our partner organization, WHEDco. From going to Rangers games to being awarded an Inspire Scholarship, he has grown into an inspiring leader in his community.
“The Garden of Dreams Foundation has provided me with experiences and opportunities that I never thought were possible in my wildest imagination. Garden of Dreams has allowed me to fulfill my dreams by helping me to go to college for free and supporting me throughout my journey since I was a kid. Garden of Dreams has done so much for myself and my family, proving to me that you can achieve anything.”– Mario, Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholar and Future Social Worker
This past April, Mario was honored by Garden of Dreams and the New York Rangers for his commitment to the community during the pandemic. He was able to help by creating healthy activities for kids, doing wellness checks on families, and delivering grocery store gift cards provided by a Garden of Dreams Covid-19 Relief Grant. A recent graduate of Manhattan College and a Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholars, Mario will begin pursuing a Master’s degree in social work at Hunter College this fall.
Matthew doesn’t let his rare condition stop him from pursuing his love of music. Despite enduring two stem cell transplants, chemotherapy and being legally blind, the 15-year old who loves singing and playing the drums keeps dreaming BIG.
“Garden of Dreams has become my extended family. Over the years, we’ve laughed together, we’ve worked hard together, we’ve supported each other no matter what, and basically love each other like we’re brothers and sisters.”– Matthew Welling, Garden of Dreams Talent Show Alumnus
Joining Garden of Dreams through Make-A-Wish Hudson Valley, Matthew sang his original piece, “Sunshine” in the 2015 Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City. That same year, he also performed during halftime at a New York Knicks ‘Garden of Dreams Night’ and during Opening Night of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes. Today, Matthew remains active in the Garden of Dreams Alumni Choir and serving as a Garden of Dreams Honorary Reporter during Knicks games.
“Garden of Dreams has had a positive impact in our lives. We are forever grateful for all the opportunities and experiences we never thought were possible. This has taught us to give back to others, the same Garden of Dreams has taken care of us.– Idalia, Garden of Dreams Parent, Samantha and Sebastian
Like Matthew, 16-year old Samantha also inspired the crowd at our annual Talent Show when she performed “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Over the years, she has undergone multiple surgeries for ulcerative colitis, but that doesn’t slow her down as she continues to perform with our Talent Show Alumni Choir. Along with her younger brother, Sebastian, who has cerebral palsy, Samantha is part of the Garden of Dreams family through Make-A-Wish Metro NY and NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. An avid basketball fan, 9-year old Sebastian, celebrated his 7th birthday with family and friends at a Knicks game through our Make-A-Dream Come True program. Together, the sister-brother duo has also participated in the Game Ball Delivery on Garden of Dreams Night at a Knicks game.
Kids across New York are heading back to school this fall. For kids facing obstacles or medical conditions, it can be exciting and challenging. At Garden of Dreams, we know dreams can and do motivate young people to do more than they ever thought possible – inside and outside of the classroom. Your support means Garden of Dreams can help more kids like Mario, Matthew, Samantha, and Sebastian!