Distance 4 Dreams

Special Wishes Come True One Mile at a Time
This article was published in Dayton Daily News on

The University of Dayton students who are members of Distance 4 Dreams, a student-led service organization founded in 2007 that benefits A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter, far outpace the average college student. These dedicated students understand the importance of a college education along with enhancing their experience by being active within the Dayton region.. Some of these students may not stay in the Dayton region after graduation, but they will have definitely left their mark.

What began as an internship with A Special Wish Foundation became a philanthropy where running marathons would result in the granting special wishes to local children with life-threatening disorders. In 2006, as Katie Przbys’ internship came to an end, she knew she wanted to do more and to give back to the community she called home. Mentioning her desire to help ASW, Katie’s roommates told her about the annual Disney Marathon held in Orlando, FL every January. Katie’s roommate were scheduled to run the marathon, but did not have the “right cause” to run for. A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter soon became that cause and, little did they know at the time, that conversation would lead to the founding of the first chapter of Distance 4 Dreams, dedicated to raising money by running marathons and making Special Wishes come true. Eight years later, D4D is one of the largest fundraising groups for A Special Wish Foundation.

In the spring of 2007, the first meeting of Distance 4 Dreams was held. The group was made up of University of Dayton students, along with alumni and staff. While still focused on their studies, the group found time between classes and other activities to train for the Disney half and full marathons. Not only did the group need to train, but they also needed to raise the necessary funds to cover not only the cost of sponsoring a local child’s special wish, but also their own travel expenses and entry fees. In honor of the Disney Marathon, the group introduced the Minnie 5K with a course that took runners through the beautiful University of Dayton campus and out through the student neighborhood. The 5K was a huge success and is still held every fall. The second fundraiser the group organized was the annual Parent’s Weekend Pancake Breakfast. Members work tirelessly turning out golden pancakes, bacon and sausage to hungry families in a packed room. These two fundraisers along with individual donations from family and friends helped D4D raise $5,700 their first year and reach their goal of granting a wish. The following two years brought even more success. The group was able to grant another four wishes due by raising an extraordinary $8,000 in 2007 and $9,100 in 2008. Since the organization began in 2007, the University of Dayton D4D has raised over $51,000 and granted 13 wishes to local children.

Along with raising much-needed funds, the students are also dedicated to the child they are for whom they are running and honor that child by painting the child’s name on their leg or arm. By doing so, it reminds each runner of why they run and provides encouragement along the way.

“Knowing we can help a child battling for their life have an opportunity to just be a kid again is why we work hard to raise money for A Special Wish” said Genevieve Kocoloski, D4D member. “These kids have been through so much so knowing we have played a part in making the child smile and laugh is worth every mile run and every blister."

In just a few weeks the University of Dayton D4D team will be heading back to Orlando for the 2015 Disney Marathon and for the ninth consecutive year. As we celebrate the holiday season, these students personify the importance of giving, inspiring hope and taking care of their fellow man. A Special Wish Foundation is honored to be connected with Distance 4 Dreams and the impact they have made, one mile at a time.