TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Founder of White Oak nonprofit Jamie's Dream Team hailed as hero

Norma Kutscher | Daily News - Kelly Hughes, center, and her mother, Jeanie Kitchen, left, of Jeannette received the itinerary for their week-long vacation to Hollywood from Jamie Holmes, compliments of Jamie's Dream Team in September 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Norma Kutscher | Daily News</em></div>Kelly Hughes, center, and her mother, Jeanie Kitchen, left, of Jeannette received the itinerary for their week-long vacation to Hollywood from Jamie Holmes, compliments of Jamie's Dream Team in September 2012.
- Jamie Holmes, founder of White Oak-based charity Jamie’s Dream Team, prepares to fulfill the dreams of sick and injured children. submitted photo
Jamie Holmes, founder of White Oak-based charity Jamie’s Dream Team, prepares to fulfill the dreams of sick and injured children. submitted photo

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, March 8, 2013, 5:16 a.m.
 

Jamie Holmes, founder of White Oak-based nonprofit Jamie's Dream Team, was honored by KDKA with four others as a Hometown Hero on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Holmes, 26, founded her charity in 2005. It is dedicated to making dreams come true for the terminally ill and injured.

Joining Holmes as Hometown Heroes were Penn Hills police Sgt. Patrick J. Manning, William R. Neal Jr. of Pittsburgh, Penn State University student Paul Shields, and Military Connections founder Summer Tissue.

KDKA Radio personality Larry Richert hosted the program. It also featured members of the Wounded Warrior Project, which raises public awareness and solicits support for injured service members.

Retired Army Ranger Capt. Sean Parnell said Thursday's honorees embody the spirit of Pittsburgh.

“Making life better for everybody is the most noble pursuit of all,” Parnell said. “They are leaders who always do the right thing, even when nobody is looking. Especially when nobody's looking. Their courage and selflessness knit communities together.”

“I'm not the hero here in this room,” Holmes said. “The heroes in this room are the men and women who fought for us to be here tonight, who served our country. The heroes in this room are their families who sit with them tonight, and also the families of the heroes who did not come home. We wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for them.”

Holmes was born with the rare disorder VATER Syndrome, which causes congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus and kidneys. She's had more than 45 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.

Those challenges help fuel Holmes' passion to assist others.

“I wake up every day battling my own illness, and I will have to have more surgeries soon,” Holmes said. “What gets me through the day is knowing that someone else needs my help, whether it be a child who has an illness, or an adult with a trauma. These children and adults who we grant dreams to touch my life, each and every one of them. They become like family.”

Jamie's Dream Team began by fulfilling the dream of Mallory Oross, 5, of West Mifflin, who was suffering from neuroblastoma.

It since has made wishes come true for more than 400 others, providing gift cards to needy families, arranging meet-and-greets with athletes and celebrities, organizing princess parties and planning trips to Disney World.

The group will host a princess party Sunday at LakeView Banquet room in Greensburg for 9-year-old Kaeleigh Beregi of Greensburg, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 2.

Information about Jamie's Dream Team is available online at www.jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net.

Manning restored his town's Bessemer Baseball Field, which had gone unused for more than 15 years.

Neal founded Champion Enterprises, a nonprofit, all-volunteer community service agency that for 38 years has provided 25 programs to disadvantaged and low-income families in Allegheny County at no cost.

Shields helped to rescue the occupants of a burning building.

For 10 years, Tissue's charity organization has provided more than 1 million care packages for soldiers.

Each hero received $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read McKeesport

  1. 3 charged in carjack attempt in Duquesne
  2. Steel Valley rejects bids, says restrooms will be constructed in-house
  3. Homestead summit addresses ways to help inmates transition after prison
  4. Mon Valley spans in need of attention
  5. 4-D Theater debuts at Kennywood
  6. Irwin woman waives sex charges to court
  7. Legos, computers draw students to Elizabeth Forward tech camp
  8. Elizabeth Forward board OKs cost to move trailer
  9. Police initiative puts the heat on  aggressive drivers
  10. GTECH Strategies volunteers to beautify McKeesport
  11. Intrepid VFW post in West Mifflin earns all-state designation