Founder of White Oak nonprofit Jamie's Dream Team hailed as hero
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Model train exhibit raises funds for McKeesport club
- North Versailles’ Dance Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ expands with bonus program for students
- Salvation Army kettle drive about to kick into high gear in Western Pennsylvania
- Elizabeth council OKs Act 537 resolution for municipal authority
- After 27 years, Clairton emerges from state ‘financially distressed’ status
- Clairton City School District wins award for its anti-hunger efforts
- McKeesport budget smaller; no tax hike planned
- McKeesport fire victim’s sister critical of response to blaze
- ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ casts spell at Grand Theatre in Elizabeth
- Elizabeth proposes big jump in small local services tax; councilwoman steps down
- McKeesport Area could bring back Air Force Junior ROTC program