We'd dared to dream and that dream looked like it just might come true!
Last week was the last day of the Sunsuper "Help Dexter Walk For Christmas" campaign. What a ride! With everyone's support and enthusiasm, we won!
What an amazing feeling that was.
After I received notification that Dexter's dream (Carol's dream) had been accepted and had gone on to the Sunsuper site, I was excited.
Then, I got nervous. But, the votes started coming in and people were sharing the dream. It was incredible. I still felt nervous, but suddenly, people everywhere were hearing Dexter's story and they wanted to help him.
Dexter made a great number of new fans during the last weeks of June!
And finally, our dream was in the lead and "Team Dexter' were all so excited.
But, it was hard work.
I would turn the computer off each night, with red, blurry eyes and lie awake, thinking of what other strategies we could put in place. In the morning, I would lean over and turn the laptop on before I even opened my eyes. I would immediately open three tabs - facebook, twitter and Sunsuper's dream page.
(We also set up a you tube channel for him and started a FlickR account.)
I would find a picture of Dexter - mostly from folders on my computer, though we did have a couple of photo-shoots with him. (Dexter's really hard to photograph - we'll blame the cerebral palsy and vision! He's a gorgeous boy, but never stops moving. His head is constantly moving around, as he tries to shuffle forward, so he never stops to "look at" the camera. He's a serious little boy, too - though is much happier now the chemotherapy has killed the cancer!)
In the mornings, the photo would often be a 'bad' one, a therapy one or a chemo one or something difficult Dexter has put up with. I figured that if he had 'put up with' it, I could muster the energy to keep campaigning.
The evening picture was a happier one - a loved, or smiling or cheerful photo - a way of celebrating the days' success.
There were daily challenges and targets being set - and celebrations when each of them were met. There were times when I could feel the energy buzzing off people's facebook comments, as the vote tally got closer and closer to a target number. Often, our votes would stop for a while - one number off our target and I could feel so many people screaming at the computer. I don't know how many times Team Dexter pressed the refresh button.... I imagine the hits on the Sunsuper dreams page were through the roof for the time Dexter's dream was up!
And, then... we'd meet the target and I could feel the celebrations.
But, I was still nervous. There were days I hardly ate and I definitely didn't get enough sleep. What if we failed? What if we didn't get it... How would I console everyone... How would I tell them that it was ok, when I would have felt so shattered? These thoughts made me feel sick.
I actually talked about this with Dexter's mum, to make sure that she knew she didn't have to worry about me - if we didn't win.
We had gained the lead though and we were still getting votes!
And then, it happened! The last Friday night! Dream Two came roaring back up! They gained on us so quickly! Dexter's story had been published on Essential Baby and we had been on WIN news, so our numbers were going up, too... but, they were smashing us!
I was shaking and that sickness was back... this was it.... this was the day we lost the lead. Pressing 'refresh' was frightening... and for good reason! The gap was closing... they were still gaining. When I went to bed that night, I was sure I would wake to Dexter's dream being number 2. It was awful.
But, the next morning (the first time I procrastinated before turning on the laptop!), we were still in front and, even better, our lead was slowly increasing.
Suddenly, I really desperately wanted this! I wasn't going to be content to let it slip by anymore. I was going to really work this, to get us there and I was sure that everyone was behind me. I could feel the renewed determination and commitment!
We flooded facebook... we flooded twitter... we sent countless emails and handed out countless information slips. We talked to people everywhere! Countless small businesses promoted Dexter's dream and wished him well. We contacted the Illawarra Mercury Newspaper and they shared Dexter's dream via facebook... and we sat back and watched the votes flood in. Voting was almost over and our lead was really growing.
For the second time, I began to feel hopeful.... I felt we might just have it, but I was not going to rest until the end!
By Saturday - of the final voting weekend, voting almost stopped, for everyone. Dexter's votes continued to increase the fastest, but even his votes slowed. It felt as though we were done.
I started eating again. I slept easier. I found myself smiling. I enjoyed pressing the refresh button again! We'd dared to dream... and it was looking good.
And so, it was Sunday, and there were only hours of voting left... hours!
I loved seeing the numbers of hours and minutes dropping...
I loved that we were almost done!
On Sunday, we attacked facebook again! Every hour, we posted photos of Dexter. And every photo got instant likes and comments, shares and love. Dexter got so much love!
People were seeing Dexter and learning about cerebral palsy. They saw him in his walker he trialed, with his head down and looking 'very disabled' and they loved him. They imagined him walking and they loved him. They watched his video, with his tiny first steps and many of them cried tears of love and happiness.
They acknowledged his spit and dribble and 'cerebral palsy face' and they loved him. Everyone loved Dexter - they recognized his difficulties, saw his determination and loved him. I can only imagine how many people wanted to cuddle and kiss Dexter that final Sunday of voting.
Voting closed at 5pm, and that was a crazy time at Dexter's place. He and his little sister cared more about dinner than facebook... then they had to be bathed and then they had to get ready for bed. And, while that was going on, the computer dinged and dinged and dinged as a constant stream of messages flooded in... all full of love and happiness because Dexter had the most votes.
A few days later, the phone rang, and I answered with shaky hands.... I don't win many things, but I was being told I had just won $5000.
The money will go to a local charity organisation.... they were going to use community raised funds to support Dexter and buy part of his walker, but we have now given them an extra $5000. A generous, anonymous man stepped up in the final days of voting, and bought Dexter a walker, so now, the money will go towards the cost of new, and desperately needed, standing frame.
Occasionally, I miss the excitement and want to drop back in and say hi to Team Dexter...
Here's what I now know:
- People are good - they are kind and generous and, if the cause is right, they will jump up and down and do whatever they can to help.
- Dexter's story really is incredible - when you live it, you tend to forget.
- Dexter really is an amazing kid - and I hope many of Team Dexter get the chance to meet him one day. His parents are quiet and unassuming - and were overwhelmed by the love and support showered on Dexter and their family.
- And... without Sunsuper, none of this would have happened!
Thanks, Sunsuper (and I will continue voting for other people's dreams, because I now how much of a difference winning $5000 can make!)
About Sunsuper’s Dreams for a better world initiative:
Sunsuper’s Dreams for a better world initiative is all about doing something positive for the community in a really meaningful way and giving individuals, groups and organisations the opportunity to help realise a dream for a better world.
Australian-based dreams are submitted through www.sunsuperdreams.com.au. Visitors to the site then vote for their favourite dream/s and the dream with the most votes at the end of each round of voting will be awarded a $5,000 grant.
We secured the award after outgunning all other Australian super funds including some of the country’s biggest and most well known funds. We were judged across 400 different criteria, including member services, investment performance, financial advice and fees.
We’ve consistently been one of Australia’s most awarded funds as a result of our commitment to providing quality service, products and education to our members, while delivering great returns and low fees.