JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From dancing Beauties to Ninja Turtles, children impacted by health struggles got the chance to be stars Saturday morning during an epic party in Jacksonville.
Forty kids with severe illnesses were given a day they will never forget as Dream Day returned to bring a smile to the faces of children and youth battling life-threatening illnesses.
Each child enjoyed a moment in the spotlight on the red carpet as they made a grand entrance decked out in costumes representing some of their favorite characters: from Spider-Man and Batman to Disney princesses and ninjas.
Television and movie characters -- including pirates, cartoons and princesses -- escorted the children down the red carpet like true royalty as spectators cheered and confetti flew.
The red carpet celebration was followed by an epic dance party and live performances, all designed to help the children lose themselves in just being kids after facing life-threatening struggles.
Nikita White, whose son, Dionte, spent the first year of his life at Wolfson Children's Hospital, said the look on her son's face when they arrived for the party was priceless.
"They said, 'Stand up and wave,' so we're standing up, and we saw this wonderful superhero, and his eyes lit up, so my eyes lit up,” White said.
Dozens of parents shared similar stories as their children enjoyed fun activities like virtual reality to nonstop dancing.
The day was also special for the volunteers, including Evan Kay, who was in his third year playing Superman for the "dreamers."
"We come to bless these kids and to be a part of them, but really, we're the ones getting blessed for being a part of this scene and for being a part of what's happening,” Kay said.
Hosted by Dreams Come True, PRI Productions and WJXT, the event, anchored by Morning Show anchor Vic Micolucci and anchor-reporter Ashley Spicer, was broadcast on Channel 4 and News4Jax.com.
Dream Day has become an incredible yearly event celebrating children and their families who've had to endure very difficult circumstances," said Bob Ellis, vice president and general manager of WJXT. "The looks on the faces of these kids and their parents are beyond inspirational. We are honored to be able to share this event on The Local Station."
PRI Productions puts on the annual Dream Day event with the help of volunteers.
"Our business is all about creating memorable experiences for people, and I can think of nothing more important than doing exactly that for these brave children who deal with unimaginable circumstances on a daily basis," said Randy Goodwin, PRI's president and CEO. "Dream Day is all about giving them a day to forget about their worries and just enjoy being kids."
Dreams Come True is the First Coast's only locally based, wish-granting organization dedicated to using the power of dreams to bring hope and joy to every First Coast child with life-threatening illness.
"Dreams Come True is dedicated to bringing hope and joy to children throughout their medical journey. The precious dreamers we serve face many struggles and Dream Day is a perfect way to provide a carefree moment for our brave children and give them a boost when they are facing tough times," said Dreams Come True Executive Director Sheri Criswell. "Not only do we have the chance to impact a child and their family outside of their dream, but Dream Day also allows individuals and businesses in our community to be part of the magic."
If you'd like to know how you can help Dreams Come True fulfill more children's wishes, News4Jax will be hosting a phone bank for the charity from 5-7 p.m. Monday.