Grant Dowling, the 11-year-old son of Jen and Garry Dowling of Canton, Minn., was all smiles recently when asked if he enjoyed his recent trip to California. Grant, who has epilepsy, was awarded an all-expenses-paid seven-day trip to San Diego. The organization responsible for the trip for Grant, along with his parents and older sister Grace, was Kids’ Dreams Come True (KDCT) based out of Rochester.
KDCT is “a volunteer driven organization seeking to bring happiness and joy to children with life-threatening illnesses and severe injuries in southeastern Minnesota,” according to KDCT’s website.
Grant was stricken with the debilitating disease when he was one year old. Since then, he has been battling seizures and various developmental challenges that most youngsters are not forced to deal with. He attends Lanesboro Elementary School, where he will be starting fifth grade this fall.
Jen knew of an area family that had been gifted by KDCT last year, got the contact information and made an application. There were three different destinations to choose from. Because Grant is so enamored with animals, the Dowlings figured a day at the world-famous San Diego Zoo would be just the ticket.
They were notified in May that they were being awarded the trip. A presentation was made at the Rochester Eagles Club on May 21. Then Grant, Jen, Garry and Grace had to wait an entire month before the big day arrived.
The Dowlings flew out of Rochester on July 25. Grant and his family were treated like celebrities. They were interviewed by Channel 3 News, which aired on the evening broadcast. Delta Airlines also heard about Grant and presented him with an official Delta Airlines shirt, cap and goodie bag. And some folks getting ready to board the plane watched the commotion and decided to give up their four first class seats to the Dowlings, so they could really ride in style.
Garry was the only one who had flown before. The three “first time flyers” handled the short jaunt from the Med City to the Twin Cities in fine fashion. From there it was a non-stop flight to San Diego.
The Dowlings stayed at the Mission Bay Resort near the ocean in San Diego and spent their first day at the zoo. On Monday they toured the USS Midway Museum. On Tuesday they took a harbor tour and Wednesday it was a trolley tour of the city. Thursday, they spent the day at Balboa Park and Friday they frolicked on the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean.
“We all had a fantastic time,” Jen reported. “Grant oohed and aahed and had a great big smile on his face from the time we flew out of Rochester until the day we flew back. This was a wonderful
experience for Grant, and all of us,” she continued. “I can’t say enough about the Kids Dreams Come True Program. Those who volunteer to make this program possible are such wonderful, caring people.
The goal of the organization, according to the KDCT website, “is to raise funds through donations and events to fulfill dreams of local children, all in an effort to give them and their families a brief respite from the stresses that come from living with and being treated for progressive, degenerative or malignant illnesses or those dealing with life-changing injuries.
“By providing these children with longed-for items or events KDCT hopes to give them an enduring memory. To ensure the children benefit the most from these efforts, funds are not be given directly to the recipients for their own personal use or medical expenses but arrangements are made, or items are purchased and paid for through Kids’ Dreams Come True.”
KDCT is a local 501c3 non-profit organization comprised of dedicated and seasoned volunteers and have two annual fundraising events: A craft beer/wine/spirit tasting event in November and their annual spring golf tournament in May.