Tiffany & AVA just returned home from a life-changing trip to Ojai, California visiting children at camp Dream Street!
Read Tiffany's Journal from her time at camp:
My life is forever changed because of a place called Dream Street! Think of all the things you dreamed of doing as a child. Dream Street is being able to do ALL of those for a full week, non-stop! For the children attending camp, all who are sick, it was heaven on earth! It looked something like this: Candy and junk food at all times! Check! Being able to zip-line down a ravine in Southern California, as many times as you wanted to! Check! Rock climbing, again, as many times as you could handle it! Check! A carnival, where you need no tickets, & you get to dunk your camp counselor over and over again. Check! Camp directors/counselor’s/doctors and nurses that treat you with the same love as your parents do. Check! Meeting friends who REALLY understand what you are going through. Check! Break through a piece of WOOD with your bare hand! Check! Horseback riding! Check! Having a water balloon/water gun fight with almost 200 friends, that not a single adult broke up! (Because most were in the middle of it and/or started it!) Check! Meeting counselors you could look up to because they had battled the same sickness as a child, and are now healthy and happy years later! Check! Getting to swim every single day! Check! Having a snowball fight, in Southern California, in July! Check! Nurses and Doctors on hand 24/7 making sure you get the medicine and medical care you need. Check! A dance held on the last night where you danced the night away, and then cried because the next morning you would leave the people who instantly “got you”. Check! Watching your cool camp counselor catch a snake with his bare hands! A BIG one at that, and then laughing as he scared the camp director with it! Check! It is hard to pick the most touching/emotional moment of my time there. I only spent a few short few days at camp, but the memories will last me a lifetime. I cried like a baby more than once, and have many times since when I think of this place and the people I met there. The director, Tiffany, has a heart of gold and puts an entire years worth of work into making this place as amazing as it is! She will be a life-long friend of mine, we share the same tender heart, sometimes to a fault I am sure. I still can’t believe the way she organized so many amazing things in one short week. The children love her, she is their angel. They show her in frequent hugs, so many my neck hurt because I would hear “Tiffany, Tiffany!” and turn only to see them running up to her =) 90% of the counselors are survivors, who at a young age attended Dream Street, and couldn’t stay away because of the way it changed their lives. The illnesses they faced range from Cancer to Hemophilia and other life threatening illnesses. They truly understand the emotion and pain these children face every day. I fell in love with many of them, they have a glow and life about them that only a survivor has. I loved watching them interact with the children. For me Dream Street was emotional for SO many reasons. But one way the counselors and children touched my life was in giving me hope. Hope that even if my cancer did come back, I could beat it again, like many of them had. It is very humbling to look up to a 7 year olds strength and perseverance. I wish I had enjoyed the entire week at Dream Street because I didn’t get to know all of the children the way I would have liked to. However, I did get to know a few of them very well. One little girl who had the cutest nickname because of her sickness, had eyes that look like what I imagine an angels to look like. Although she has this calm peace about her, when she is hurt, her eyes show it. And it cuts you to the core. I couldn’t let her go on the last night. Another little girl had a life changing week at Dream Street! She hadn’t talked for most of her life. Apparently no more than a few words had come out of her sweet little mouth! The day I arrived one counselor was taking video of her talking up a storm while horseback riding. The look on her face was that of amazement, I couldn’t figure out why, I asked “Was she scared of horses?” And she said “No, before Dream Street she had only spoken a few words in her entire life!” This little girl who was gabbing with her new best friend on the horse next to her??? I developed the closest bonds with the counselors and young girls in the cabin next to mine. They took me in on day 2 and blessed me more than they will ever know. I had at least 3 times where we laughed so hard we cried, that great belly laugh where you literally can’t breathe! One of the counselors was Laura, a beautiful Television host from the same area in California. She also shares the “tender heart syndrome” and cried as much as I did! Another with whom I shared a faith in God and a great sense of humor! Her impressions on the last night were comedy central worthy! Aviana was just beautiful and her story of beating cancer will stick with me for a long time! (ALL were hilarious!) I bonded with one little girl who literally took a chunk of my heart home in her pocket. I won’t say her name because she didn’t want kids at school to know she went to “sick camp”. That conversation broke me, I couldn’t believe what the world around me had become. How is that possible children are making fun of another child for being sick? Really sick. I know as a child I had compassion. I also know that my parents would have worn me out if they had ever heard me making fun of someone who was sick. She is battling something really rough, but when you did get a smile out of her, it would light up your world. I loved what she did get excited about, it wasn’t ever what you expected. After being taken up on stage, by Laura who had also fallen in love with her, she was given the chance to break through 8 huge bricks with a karate master! This is the same little girl that would barely utter a word if you begged her. She walked up on that stage and hit those bricks with her precious little hand. It was as if her sickness, hospitals and any worry she had faded away. Her beautiful face lit up under the beanie hat she wore every single day. I wish I could have bottled up that moment and sent it back with her to help her battle-on! Later that night as the girls were crawling into their bunk beds, I asked her, “Did you love breaking those bricks today or what?” And with true conviction, in a way you could tell she meant every single word of it, she said “That was the best moment of my life!” My heart almost fell out on the floor. Children always say “Best day EVER, Best gift EVER, Best friend EVER!!!!” But you could tell, she meant it, it was truly the top moment, in her so far short lived life. The next day Laura had a great idea. This little girl loved art and creating things. She asked her to take the wood we had broken and paint her quote from the week across both pieces. That way we could take a bit of her home with us. It will now be on my mantle for years to come. Dream Street is extremely uplifting but can be heartbreaking at the same time. To hear a little boy that looks completely healthy say he needs to leave the bonfire and go to bed because his medicine is making him sick is devastating. I think I may have cried for 2 hours straight on the last night. And that didn’t count the hours in bed later that night. To hear children say the things they said was just more than I could take. I can’t share the truly heartbreaking things they said, it wouldn’t be fair to them. But my prayer would be that every single person visit a place like this. It will change your life. I hope when reading my journal from this amazing trip, you will feel a pull to support this wonderful place. I will carry the strength of these little angels with me throughout the year, and I will without a doubt see them again next year. Dream Street is a special place that changes these children’s lives. After spending day after day at the doctor or in the hospital, they are able to just be kids and that is priceless!
PRESS RELEASE: Atlanta, GA- July 5th, 2011 AVA the Elephant, the only talking child-friendly medicine dispenser, is headed to Dream Street Camp in Ojai, CA this week. (www.dreamstreetfoundation.org) The woman behind this novel idea is Tiffany Krumins. She was the first female to receive funding on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank & will be donating AVA’s to this year’s campers. She shares a special bond with many of the campers, because she too is a cancer survivor. Her diagnosis came just months after appearing on Shark Tank. This will be a dream come true for Tiffany. In the years leading up to inventing AVA she spent her time working with special needs children and volunteering with childhood cancer patients. When asked what she saw for the future of her invention when leaving the set of Shark Tank, she stated “I want more than anything to see this product used by children who need it. I dream about taking boxes full of AVA’s to children’s hospitals all over the world. I witness every day how badly kids need a friendly face to make medicine time less scary. AVA is that friendly face & happy voice.” After pushing through cancer, and learning the ropes of launching a product, this week that dream will become a reality. About Dream Street Camp/Foundation: Dream Street provides a customized camping program for over 700 children AND young adults with cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, leukemia and other perilous diseases that are given the opportunity to enjoy activities they are normally restricted from due to their illnesses. For children ages 4-14 that require medications and treatments several times a day, conventional sleep away camps are not an option. With over 100 volunteer pediatric doctors, registered nurses and counselors, our camp provides 24 hour a day care for all medical needs including administering medications and treatments. The kids enjoy activities such as swimming, horseback rides, baseball, basketball, petting zoos, dances, plays, arts and crafts and even their own special “Olympics.” Camping sessions are free of charge to the children who are flown in (also free of charge) from hospitals around the world.