Valley News -

By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Sisters team up to bring smiles to the faces of children battling illness

 

Last updated 5/3/2019 at 3:13pm

Pamela Babek photo

Pamela Babek, left, of Temecula, and her sister, Trish Stuber, of Riverside, are the co-founders of Wishers and Dreamers Inc., a nonprofit organization that makes hospital gowns for the "little friends" of children fighting illness.

It was nine years ago that Trish Stuber was diagnosed with breast cancer. After three long years, Stuber, from Lafayette, won that battle.

But for Stuber and her sister, Pamela Babek of Temecula, the fight wasn't over.

That's when the sisters launched Wishers and Dreamers Inc., a nonprofit organization providing support to children suffering from illness, disease, a disabling condition or fighting medical challenges.

In many cases, the children spend a tremendous amount of time in a hospital and their dolly, teddy bear or "little buddy" may be their best friend in the whole world.

Wishers and Dreamers delivers handmade hospital gowns for that child's "friend" free of charge.

"Prior to my sister, Trish, being diagnosed with breast cancer I was involved with a program to raise awareness for pediatric cancer," Babek said. "I watched families battle the monster every day. I admired the courage and grace Trish displayed during her battle. Her strength and positive attitude, even through the darkest of moments, reminded me to always believe in hope."

That hope and positivity helped Stuber fight the disease and the two sisters wanted to find a way to pass along that kind of encouragement.

"Trish was surrounded by many people that supported her during her battle," Babek said. "She wanted all of the children that receive our gowns to know there are people all around the world supporting them, encouraging them and wishing them the best through their journey."

In 2013 Babek, who they call "The Dreamer," sponsored a babydoll for a little girl named Mattie in Georgia that was battling brain cancer. The babydoll was custom made for Mattie to help her cope with her cancer journey. Mattie named her babydoll Angel.

Stuber, "The Wisher," suggested making a hospital doll gown for Mattie's babydoll and Mattie's little sister's babydoll.

Babek posted the photo of the first hospital doll gown made by Stuber on Facebook.

Due to Babek's previous involvement with children battling cancer, many parents started asking if they could make a gown for their child's buddy.

The rest is history. Since that day the organization has made and sent more than 9,000 gowns.

"Mattie and her doll, Angel, were our inspiration to create Wishers and Dreamers," Babek said. "We are thankful this little girl entered our lives and she will always have a special place in our hearts. Mattie earned her angel wings in November 2013."

Babek said there are hundreds of volunteers across the United States that make the gowns.

"Our volunteers are continually making batches of gowns," Babek said. "We sometimes receive 10 gowns at a time and other times we receive hundreds of gowns. Trish personally makes at about 20 gowns a week. We have local cutting and sewing events quarterly where we welcome volunteers to participate in the process of making gowns."

She said the organization can receive up to 60 orders for gowns in a given day, and they deliver around 100 gowns during their visits to children's hospitals.

"Presenting the gowns to the children and watching their faces light up is one of the most humbling experiences you can have," Babek said. "It's good for your soul."

She said children are able to select the gown they want for their "friend" at the hospital events.

"It is amazing to see their eyes scan all the gowns to select the one that speaks to them," Babek said. "It might be a certain color, pattern or character that sparks the smile on their faces.

"We receive many photos of children and their buddies wearing the new gown along with messages of appreciation. We even receive updates on children and pictures of their special companions wearing the gowns many years later."

Babek is an estate planning paralegal, a childhood cancer awareness advocate, wife, mother and grandmother – in addition to being the president of Wishers and Dreamers.

She said they are fortunate to have a lot of support.

"We have received support from family, friends and just about everyone that hears about our mission," Babek said. "We feel it's important for all that are involved to feel the way we do when a child receives a gown for their buddy. The personal touch of our faith-based mission is important to us."

Volunteers are important, and Babek said the group is always in need of more help.

"We are always in need of volunteers to sew," she said. "It's a great project for children and adults to be involved with.

"We want to thank everyone that has supported, donated, and sewed for Wishers and Dreamers. Without all our volunteers and supporters, we would not be able to continue the mission of sending hospital doll gowns to children for their special little companions.

"Most of all, we want to thank the children for fighting a strong and courageous battle," she said.

Babek said the organization is looking to add more funding so they can continue to build the foundation.

"One hundred percent of donations to Wishers and Dreamers are used to send children hospital doll gowns and to host hospital events for the kiddos," she said.

For more information, visit http://www.wishersanddreamers.org and Babek suggested interested supporters visit the organization's Facebook page by searching "Wishers and Dreamers Hospital Doll Gowns."

"(There you can see) pictures of children and their companions, messages from parents and updates on upcoming events," she said.

Jeff Pack can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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