There’s just something about the atmosphere at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center that makes it a venue to facilitate cherished memories.
In 2007, Dr. Pat Condy, Fossil Rim executive director, decided it was time to capitalize on that notion.
“I was visiting a zoo, and I noticed some hospital buses and ambulances,” Condy said. “I found out it was an annual event for children from the hospital to come enjoy all sorts of things. That got me thinking about how Fossil Rim could do something like that. I found out we would need help from the LDL (Educational Resource) Foundation to select eligible families.”
Thus, Dream Day was born. Local children battling medical adversity in the company of their families are hosted at Fossil Rim for a day with fun and happiness being primary goals. This year, it’s set for Friday, Dec. 4.
“It began as a partnership between Fossil Rim, LDL and Glen Rose Medical Center (GRMC),” Condy said. “Since then, Dinosaur Valley State Park joined as an in-kind sponsor. Now, we’re happy Dr. Mike Jones has joined us as a new sponsor this year because he wants to help us make a difference for these children.”
Condy said December was selected as the month for Dream Day because Fossil Rim wants to provide a “Christmas atmosphere.” On that note, a couple of Fossil Rim volunteers ensure that Santa and Mrs. Claus show up on the big day.
While the children in question are the guests of honor, Condy pointed out that the objective is to provide a special experience for each and every family member.
“We invite the county judge, mayor, county commissioner, fire department and the sheriff,” he said. “On occasion, the fire department has brought a fire engine out for the kids to check out. They all greet the families as they arrive that morning.”
The adventure begins with a private tour of Fossil Rim, followed by a luncheon in the Christmas-themed glass-walled pavilion at the Foothills Safari Camp. Each child gets to enjoy some of his or her favorite foods.
“Every family member gets a bag of Christmas presents,” Condy said. “We donate items from our Nature Store, as do local businesses. After lunch, the children make enrichment toys for the birds at the Children’s Animal Center and watch the birds enjoy them.”
Condy mentioned that, if needed, GRMC will provide a nurse for the day.
This year, there will be three young special guests in attendance with their families. Lynn Rogers, Fossil Rim development coordinator, shared some details of what these courageous children have been battling.
There is a 15-year-old repeat honoree from Glen Rose, Jacey Barron, who has rheumatoid arthritis and pseudotumor cerebri, which involves symptoms mimicking a brain tumor. She first experienced all that is Dream Day in 2012.
“It was her one day that she could forget about an everyday life of pain and chemo injections and just be treated like a normal girl,” said her mother, Amanda Box.
The second child is a three-year-old from Glen Rose and the granddaughter of a person who has helped coordinate the selection of previous honorees. She is contending with severe arthritis.
The third youth is a three-year-old boy from Granbury. He is fighting juvenile myositis, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune disease.
“We strive to be good citizens in the Somervell County community, and this event is part of those efforts,” Condy said.
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate