The Dream Factory is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization devoted to granting the dreams of critically and chronically ill children aged 3 through 18. Founded in 1980 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, it has since become the second largest wish-granting organization in the United States with over 30 chapters. Our local chapters are run entirely by over 5,000 dedicated volunteers who have helped fulfill the dreams of more than 25,000 children since 1980.
In January of 2009 a group of us that were meeting for a Bible study decided we wanted to get involved in a local charity and see if we could come up with a fundraiser. We all brainstormed ideas and considering our affinity for playing cards, figured maybe would could host a poker tournament. We had all been to numerous fund raising events around Columbia but nothing along the lines of what we were thinking about. We approached Tim Bach from the Dream Factory as a couple of us were familiar with the organization and asked if they would be okay with us hosting an event for them. Since the Dream Factory is 100% funded from private donations and no state funds, he was pumped to say the least.
Initially our goal for the tournament was to raise around $8,000. Each 'Dream' granted to a child and their family typically costs around $4,000 and we wanted to fund two dreams. We went in a little bit leery of being able to reach that goal in our first year but as the tournament started to come together, we felt better and better about being able to reach that goal. Local businesses really stepped up in donating auction items and we started seeing strong registration for players for the event.
By the night of the tournament, we had 88 players, lots of volunteers and all the food and drink anyone could hope for. As the tournament started, we took a small break every 30 minutes to auction off items. Once the 14 auction packages were auctioned off, we let players rebuy chips and kicked it into gear for the rest of the evening. The event finished with Rob Quinn, now with Veterans United Home Loans, as the winner of the inaugural event. We kept a tally throughout the evening of the funds raised and got more and more pumped as the night went. When it was all said and done, we raised just over $12,000 and were able to sponsor a third Dream for a local youth. It was awesome!
The poker tournament has become one of Columbia's favorite charity events, having raised over $750,000 to fill 150 dreams!