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Jamie's Dream Team stays busy for sick and injured

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Jamie Holmes, founder of White Oak-based charity Jamie’s Dream Team, prepares to fulfill the dreams of more sick and injured children. submitted photo
Jamie Holmes, founder of Jamie's Dream Team, sent Tiffany Weisenburger of Pleasant Hills to meet her bone marrow donor, Kyle Stapleton of Fayetteville,Ga., in February. Weisenburger, daughter Jocelyn 8, and fiance' Jason Bowser accepted the gift of airfare, hotel accomodations, gift cards and entertainment for her reunion with Kyle and his family. Norma Kutscher|Daily News

A White Oak charity had its busiest year making dreams come true for the sick and injured.

“We had a very successful and prosperous year,” Jamie Holmes said. “We did a lot. All the people we help become an extended family. We've created relationships that will last forever.”

In 2005, Holmes founded Jamie's Dream Team, a nonprofit organization that tries to make life a little better for ill children and those in need.

Its first fulfilled “dream” was for 5-year-old Mallory Oross of West Mifflin, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2005.

Since then, hundreds of dreams have come true.

“It was only a hope and a dream that it was going to be this big,” Holmes said.

No fewer than 50 dreams came true this year, with a bulk of them being at a fashion show in May at the Dormont Hollywood Theater.

The fashion show models all suffered from some type of affliction.

“It was probably one of the best things that we've ever done,” Dream Team vice president Kim Shidel said.

Holmes said everyone looked beautiful, and it was a tremendous event.

The Dream Team started the year strong by helping part-time Belle Vernon police officer Bill Haines.

Haines and his family lost their Unity Township home to a fire. The team came together in January to help Haines with various donations and assistance from Teamsters Local 205 and Busy Beaver among others.

Tiffany Weisenburger, a 29-year-old Pleasant Hills woman with acute myeloid leukemia, received a bone marrow transplant in August 2007. Her donor was Kyle Stapleton, a college student from Fayetteville, Ga.

In February, Holmes and the team helped send Weisenburger and her family members to meet her donor.

Jessica Thompson's dining room and living room were renovated in March. Jessica, 17, of Jeannette has metachromatic leukadystrophy.

The Dream Team gave synthetic hair to Noel Eversole, 26, of Glassport in May. Eversole's a mother of two suffering from an under active thyroid and alopecia.

Also in May, an umbrella stroller and a canopy wagon were given to 3-year-old John Blosser of McKeesport. John was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

Gift cards, food vouchers and other donations were given to 3-year-old Jemma Snyder of McKeesport in June. Jemma suffered from brain damage.

McKenna May of Toledo, Ohio went to Disney World through the Dream Team with support from Give Kids The World in July. McKenna, 4, has leukemia.

Holmes helped another Toledo resident with leukemia and Down syndrome in August. Brittany Kookoothe, 12, received a customized bedroom.

Aaron Delandro, 31, of White Oak received financial support in late August. The father of three suffered from a brain tumor.

The Dream Team sent Kelly Hughes, 22, of Jeannette to Hollywood, and Virginia Buck, 9, of Erie to Green Bay in September. Hughes has an inoperable brain tumor. Virginia has Huntington's disease.

Robin Wardhall, 42, of Wilmerding went to Las Vegas also in September. Wardhall has cancer.

Gabby Hrinda, 9, of White Oak received an iPad to assist her with learning and other activities in October. Gabby had a brain aneurysm.

Devin Lint, 12, of Versailles got a computer for communication and gaming, and Tommy Enolish, 3, of Mt. Washington received an iPad in November. Devin has cancer and Timmy has autism.

December was a big month for the charity.

It helped rebuild a house for the family of 3-year-old Waylon Music. Their Kentucky home was taken over by black mold while Waylon was in the hospital with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

Matthew Henry, 11, of Philadelphia went to Disney World with his family. Matthew was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and diplegia/hemiplegia.

Catherine Branson, 12, of Sparks, Nev. received a $7,000 scholarship for an intense physical therapy program. Catherine has an anoxic brain injury with limited mobility.

The team's working on several big projects for next year, including two dreams involving the Turtle Creek and Shaler area. Details are not being released yet.

Holmes, 25, was born with a rare disorder known as VATER Syndrome. Children born with that condition have congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus and kidneys.

She's had more than 30 surgeries and medical procedures, including fusing several vertebrae in her spine. One of her kidneys has disintegrated, and the remaining kidney is not fully functional.

It's those challenges that help fuel Holmes' passion to assist others dealing with illnesses.

Major fundraisers this year were the fashion show, holiday toy drive, three spaghetti dinners and the Harff house Christmas light display in North Huntingdon Township.

Shidel said there were a lot of private donations this year as a result of more people finding out about JDT.

“There were some bigger stories that really opened us up to a lot of bigger things,” Shidel said. “Pittsburgh's wonderful. We're grateful for The Daily News because The Daily News runs all our stories, and people see where their money's actually being spent. We have a lot of good things coming up.”

Other donors included 84 Lumber, Royal Paint, Rain Roofing, Vince Veltri, Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home and Finney Funeral Home More information about Jamie's Dream Team is available online at www.jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net. Monetary donations to the Dream Team can be sent to 2023 Cypress Drive, White Oak, 15147.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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