When Dreams Come True

By Giving List Staff   |   October 18, 2021
LeeAnne embraces one last vacation with her husband

Shortly before dying from terminal cancer six years ago, Gary began filming videos with his four-year-old daughter Bailey. The hope was one day she could play it at her wedding in place of the father-daughter dance. Bailey loved ballet and they would shoot snippets of her dancing everywhere she went. The video culminated at Disneyland, with father and daughter sharing a dance in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Gary died within a few months.

Linda sees the ocean for the first time with her grandchildren

The visit to Disneyland and montage video was made possible by Dream Foundation, which provides end-of-life Dreams to terminally-ill adults and their families. Bailey is 11 years old now and she still watches the video every day on her iPhone, and she will play it again one day at her wedding.

“Twenty years down the road, I hope to be at that wedding, watching how much this means to this little girl,” says Kisa Heyer, the CEO of Dream Foundation.

The story of Gary and Bailey is just one of 32,000 end-of-life Dreams made possible by Dream Foundation since the organization was founded in 1994. Dream recipients must be at least 18 years old, must have a life expectancy of 12 months or less, and must lack the resources to manifest the Dream. Whether it’s something as basic as paying a utility bill to relieve a financial burden or meeting a personal hero, Dream Foundation provides the type of support that turns dying Dreams into living memories.

“To be able to give someone their final request is truly amazing, humbling, and inspiring,” Heyer says. “Dreams provide inspiration, comfort, and closure. And those three words are the very tenets of our mission statement. We see it every day in the work that we do.”

Dream Foundation manages its resources carefully and some of the Dream requests can get expensive. It has partnerships with airlines, hotels, and car sharing services that can provide discounts and in-kind donations. 

And the nonprofit has long-term, loyal donors who can step in to provide everything in between. Sometimes Dream Coordinators have to get creative, as they did recently with a man who suffered from ALS and wanted to travel to Hawaii. The state’s borders were closed due to travel restrictions and the man’s condition was deteriorating quickly. He opted for an Xbox with an adaptive controller so he could play video games with his 10-year-old son before he died.

“That was something we were easily able to grant,” Heyer says, “and it provided hours of entertainment that he wouldn’t have been able to have.”


Dream Foundation

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Matching Challenge

Through December 2022, the first $2,500 donated will be matched thanks to The Giving List’s novel matching program.

Supporting Our Veterans

In 2015, Dream Foundation launched Dreams for Veterans to support U.S. military veterans in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Military veterans make up 20 percent of the Dreams served by the organization. CEO Kisa Heyer is keen to attract attention to the program and provide more support to people who served. “Our nation’s heroes sometimes face their toughest times when they come home,” she says. “Considering the sacrifices they made, it is so compelling and so worthwhile to be able to help them in their final days.”


Dream Foundation serves terminally-ill adults and their families by providing end-of-life Dreams that offer inspiration, comfort and closure.

(805) 539-2203
Director of Development: Susie Willett

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

Ivana and I have been proud supporters of Dream Foundation and its mission for over 10 years. We feel so blessed to be a small part of this incredibly compassionate community of volunteers and supporters that make the magic of Dreams come true. Our participation with Dream Foundation now includes our three children, who have learned valuable lessons about how to contribute with their talent, time, or treasure to this amazing organization.
Ivana and Andrew

Delivering Compassion with Flowers

Dream Foundation’s volunteer-driven Flower Empower program delivers floral bouquets, fresh-baked cookies, fine chocolates, and cards to friends, neighbors, loved ones, or anyone in need of cheer in Santa Barbara County. “It’s amazing to see the difference a bouquet can make,” says Heyer.

Dream Plaza

Located directly in front of the Hotel Californian, the Dream Plaza (a generous gift) is comprised of stones available to be dedicated with an elegant engraving. Whether making new memories or remembering past ones, the Dream Plaza will be a place to revisit for generations to come.

Key Supporters

Louise and Tim Casey
Kate and Arthur Coppola
Brad Daugherty, Ambassador of Sports
Renee and Mark DePaco, Board Member
Michelle and Luke Ebbin, Past Board Member
Ivana and Andrew Firestone
Audrey and Tim Fisher
Roberta and Stan Fishman
J. Paul Gignac, Past Board Member
Robin and Roger Himovitz
Diane and Wells Hughes, Board Member
Sheryl and Rob Lowe, Ambassador
Dr. BJ Miller, MD, Honorary Medical Chair
Jillian and Pete Muller
Holly and Bob Murphy, Past Board Members
Sandi and Bill Nicholson,
Honorary Veterans Committee Members
David Nygren, PhD, Board Member
Hutton Parker Foundation
Priscilla Presley, Ambassador
Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree
Tina Schlieske and Justine Roddick,
Past Board Member
Shelley and Paul Schulte
Elizabeth and Kenny Slaught, Board Chair
Daryl Stegall, Board Secretary & John Stegall
Colleen Barnett-Taylor and Michael Taylor