“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Meade
Dreams For Kids was founded by Tom Tuohy, at the request of his mother, Patricia Tuohy. Mrs. Tuohy was a single parent who dedicated her life to raising her four young children and to overcoming any adversity that stood in the way of her family’s personal welfare.
The organization was born on December 24, 1989 in a small room inside a homeless shelter in the Englewood neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. On Christmas Eve, a dozen volunteers, including Santa, showed up at “Clara’s House” with Tom to visit 54 children living in this homeless shelter. When Clara told the volunteers that the kids would never have even known it was Christmas, a commitment was made to reach out further each and every year.
Every year the annual Holiday for Hope event grew until it became the largest of its kind in the state of Illinois, bringing over 1,000 homeless and at-risk kids together for a special day of generosity and paying it forward. It is now the largest event of its kind in the world, held in over 30 countries each December.
In 1996, Dreams For Kids was introduced to another group of isolated children—those with developmental and physical disabilities. When we met a young man named JJ, who became paralyzed during a hockey incident, soon the need was recognized for a program to meet the social and physical needs for kids who had no organized sports or social activities available to them. Thus began Extreme Recess, the first adaptive sports program of its kind for kids with disabilities.
In 2007 Dreams For Kids began its global expansion, with work in several countries and launched the international Dream Leaders program, uniting an entire generation of youth of all abilities, and from every race, religion, gender, and socio-economic background, to each other, and to service in their local and world communities.
In 2009, Dreams For Kids opened a chapter in Washington DC to begin its national expansion, and its registration was approved in Canada, with its first international chapter to open in Toronto in late 2011.
Since its founding, Dreams For Kids programs have impacted the lives of over 150,000 young people and adults.
Dreams for Kids, Changing the World…One Person at a Time, written by Tom Tuohy and published on May 17, 2010, shares the history of the organization, as well as the stories of the inspiration and generosity that has made Dreams For Kids the organization it is today.