By Dena Frawley
Special to the Voice
Dream Come True is back in West Haven, and it did it again
Genesis, a fourth-grade student at Alma E. Pagels School, travels to Disney World with her family for Christmas vacation, sponsored by Dream Come True of Western Connecticut, and, as usual with Dream Come True volunteer Joe Belbusti, a proper sendoff was in order. To celebrate and cheer Genesis on for her trip to Disney, Belbusti and volunteer partner John McKeon arranged for the entire fourth grade of Pagels School to surprise Genesis with a huge dessert party that rivals Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Principal Gary Palermo brought all of the fourth-graders into the cafeteria, as they sat in complete silence, awaiting the chance to surprise Genesis. OK, maybe a few giggles and gasps escaped from Genesis’ classmates when they saw tables full of giant buckets of ice cream and toppings, party favors, cookies, cake, juice, balloons and Minnie Mouse cupcakes that were all donated, made and personally catered by Louise Martone of Louise’s Bakery. The frosting on the cupcakes was pink in honor of Genesis because it is one of her favorite colors. When local artist Ernie Conte heard about Genesis’ enjoyment of painting, he created her very own caricature painting for the centerpiece of the sweet feast.
As Genesis walked closer to the cafeteria, she saw her name on a banner with balloons hanging from the entrance. At this point, Genesis’ classmates, former and current teachers, friends and family couldn’t contain their excitement anymore, as a huge “Surprise!” shouts across the room with cheers and applause. With Genesis by his side in the center of the cafeteria, Palermo spoke to everyone about how amazing of a student Genesis is and ways in which the Dream Come True organization is involved in our community, all while graciously thanking the people who have helped put this special event together.
Bielca, Genesis’ mother, sums it up with how Pagels School and Dream Come True show their compassion for children through love, support and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
“All of the teachers love her. They’re a family here. Genesis is surrounded by so many people that love her, and I pray every day that she always has people like the teachers at Pagels with her for the rest of her life,” says Bielca, smiling across the cafeteria at her daughter.
Genesis is a fun-loving, happy kid with a very magnetic personality. Throughout her party, classmates saved seats for Genesis, putting their legs and hands on stools so no one would sit there except in hopes that Genesis would. Word spread wide about the sendoff party for Genesis, and as more people heard about it, former teachers, including her kindergarten teacher and teachers that now work at other schools, came to celebrate with her — a testament among these special guests that shows how much Genesis positively impacts the lives of so many.
Genesis has hydrocephalus, a condition of having excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, which has caused her balance problems and ultimately surgery on her legs. However, that does not stop Genesis from laughing with friends and enjoying her favorite desserts. The planning for Genesis’ trip started when she was in third grade, just dreaming about her favorite Disney characters like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Now, thanks to Dream Come True, she can dream about what to pack.
Special thanks go to Genesis, her parents Bielca and John, Joe Belbusti, John McKeon, Louise Martone, Ernie Conte, Principal Gary Palermo, faculty and staff of Pagels School for making this special sendoff possible.
Dream Come True of Western Connecticut is dedicated to granting the dreams of children who experience or have experienced chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Dream Come True’s mission is to promote and enrich the lives of children who are seriously, chronically or terminally ill, offering children the chance to hope, dream and live their fantasies. Since 1984, Dream Come True of Western Connecticut has granted over 250 dreams in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties. For more information please contact Joe Belbusti at 203-887-6156 (JosephBelbusti@gmail.com), visit www.dreamcometruect.org, or keep reading to find out when another West Haven dream will come true.