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Grant a Dream gives 12 vacations in 12 months to families

The Broomfield nonprofit is dedicated to giving caregivers much-needed relief.

Christel Lewis, a mother of four children — including two who have cystic fibrosis — rarely has time to take care of herself.

Her life is dedicated to spending time in hospitals, driving long distances to and from hospitals, giving her children medication and doing everything she can to increase the life expectancy for her kids who have the damaging disorder.

“I don’t even have time to cry,” Lewis said. “You can’t cry when you’re in battle.”

The Grant a Dream nonprofit gave Lewis and her husband a three-day vacation at a condo in Keystone, and she said the respite was something she hadn’t experienced in a long time.

“Grant a Dream made me feel loved,” she said. “We got to feel like everything was OK.”

Her vacation included spa treatments and a smashing room experience, where she got to take out all her frustration by breaking household junk. But her favorite memory was hugging her husband for a long time — an act that is usually broken up by her children needing help and her countless chores.

The Grant a Dream Foundation has given 12 vacations in 12 months to caregivers like Lewis, who have dedicated their lives to helping people with disabilities.

“The truth of the numbers is pretty staggering — one out of every 25 households in the United States has one of these caregiver situations with children,” said Derik Timmerman, executive director of the foundation.

“It’s the kind of life that doesn’t lend itself to thinking about yourself at all, or taking any breaks whatsoever, and you just live in survival mode for years and years,” he said.

Ann Townsend, a Broomfield resident, founded Grant a Dream in 2018 after being a caregiver to her own daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare liver disease as a newborn.

“Ann’s daughter Hannah would live in and out of the children’s hospital, with lots of tricky procedures as a parent that you have to do,” Timmerman said. “It’s not something you thought you’d be doing when you sat down with your spouse and decided to have a baby. You have all these dreams of what your child is going to do and be, and then this diagnosis comes.”

In addition to granting caregivers’ dreams, the foundation’s leaders have their own dream.

“The goal is to be granting 1,000 dreams a year by 2026,” Timmerman said.