Of all the charity work the Blues do over the course of a season (and trust me, there’s plenty of it), my favorite event is Dream Night with the Blues.
Each year, the entire team volunteers for this unique event, which takes place at Side Pockets in St. Charles and gives fans an opportunity to meet the players, get autographs and challenge them to video games, pool, darts and much more.
The fans pay an admission fee and then make a small donation for every game they play, autograph they get or photo they take, and all the money benefits The Dream Factory of St. Louis, a local nonprofit organization that finds seriously ill children and sends them on their dream vacations.
And I haven’t even told you the most touching part: a lot of the kids The Dream Factory supports are in attendance, too. For a few hours at least, they can forget about the challenges they face and just enjoy themselves.
Who couldn’t support a cause like that?
“I met a few kids (today) that have been through a lot. I got a chance to visit with and play some games with them,” said Blues defenseman Wade Redden, who was participating in his first Dream Night with the Blues. “These kids go through so much in their day-to-day life with treatments and all they have to go through, so to get a dream trip to do whatever they want, it makes you happy to know they can do that and go enjoy themselves.
“It’s just a great event, and these kids mean a lot to the guys.”
Saturday marked the 17th Annual Dream Night with the Blues. In addition to The Dream Factory, this year’s event benefited Camp Rainbow (an organization that provides free camping experiences to children who have survived cancer or are currently battling it) and the Lydia Cox Memorial Bike Camp (organized by the Down Syndrome Assocation of Greater St. Louis, the camp helps children with down syndrome complete the seemingly impossible task of riding a bike).
Saturday's event raised an estimated $56,000 for charity. Over the last 17 years, $436,000 has been raised to improve the quality of life for children with serious illness.
“It’s amazing. You get to see new faces every year that are benefiting from The Dream Factory,” defenseman Barret Jackman said. “There are many different charities that benefit from this night and it’s amazing to see the fans come out year after year to support this type of activity.”
One of those fans is Dana Murley, who attended her first Dream Night event on Saturday with her son, Jeff, who has down syndrome. Jeff played hockey for the Gateway Locomotives and participated in the Lydia Cox Memorial Bike Camp two years ago.
“I think that this has been an awesome experience,” Dana said. “The Blues are a great team. For them to take time out of their schedule and give themselves in this way and be so kind has just meant a whole lot to all the kids that are here."
Dana won the live auction of T.J. Oshie’s jersey for her son. She spent $600 and did so knowing the money would help someone less fortunate.
I asked Dana how long she’d remember this event, and she answered without hesitation.
“Forever," she said. "I know these are hockey players, and I’m not putting them on a pedestal or anything, but people who are kind enough to give their time to help kids and families with challenges, to make themselves available…it just means a whole lot."
So next year, when you see information on the 18th Annual Dream Night with the Blues on stlouisblues.com, don’t hesitate to get your tickets and participate.
You won’t find many charity events in life more rewarding than this one.
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