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Photography by Peggy O’Donnell

The impressive $30 million car collection displayed at the Marconi Automotive Museum was the perfect setting for the Literacy Project Foundation (LPF) to discuss future dreams and a vision of success for young at-risk kids. The third annual benefit luncheon “What Dreams Are Made Of” was successful in making new friends with some 200 guests while raising approximately $30,000 to provide a “no cost” reading program to classrooms and after-school programs in Orange County school districts.

The objective of the “What Dreams Are Made Of” event was to bring together passionate supporters who care to give students with lesser means the gift of literacy. The event also raised awareness for LPF’s mission to implement their literacy programs into classrooms, after-school environments, and nonprofit organizations that serve underprivileged children facing challenges of illiteracy and improve their reading skills level.

The event program began with the pledge of allegiance given by student Kayla Lopez, a graduate at Palm Lane Elementary School from LPF’s reading program. LPF Chairman Doug Freeman introduced Mark Victor Hansen, keynote speaker and author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Hansen, whose own parents were illiterate, delivered a touching and passionate speech about his personal journey through the world of literacy and the risks society faces when great minds are left behind.

Another major highlight of the afternoon was the presentations by five students who recently completed LPF’s program. These kids were accompanied by their Role Models; adults who represented the career they dream to have in their future. Equipped with “Dream Cards” and illustrations of their perfect job, students bravely took center stage to dazzle the crowd with their confidence and aspiring dreams.

Role Models helped with the kid’s speeches by first telling their own stories of how they selected their careers and became accomplished.  Dr. Lee Hausner, Educational Psychologist and LPF Board Member, represented a child psychologist for Kellie B.; Jeannie Lawrence, Proprietor, and Michelle Clemente, Veterinarian at Rancho Las Lomas, represented a veterinarian for Starr; Kareen Espino, 4th year UCI medical student, represented a doctor for Kayla; Six Time All Star, Four Time Gold Glove Winner Angels and Orioles Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Grich represented a baseball player for Ramiro; and Mark Victor Hansen represented an author for Sheyla.

The children’s emotions and excitement to be a part of this special day filled the room leaving no doubt of the purpose of event. LPF specifically services the most at-risk children to ensure their English Proficiency as a lifelong tool to produce contributing members of society.

This year, LPF acknowledged and thanked those special people and partners who have gone beyond the call of duty in their roles to support literacy. 2012 Master Teacher of the Year was awarded to Miranda Espinosa. Jolie Hales accepted the award for Disneyland Resort who was named 2012 Corporate Partner of the Year for their generous sponsorship to the Anaheim Achieves Literacy Project and donation of more than 1,000 books to graduates. 2012 Distinguished Humanitarian was awarded to Sue Parks for her outstanding philanthropic work in Orange County, and setting a high standard of commitment to humanitarian causes.

The event’s success was made possible by major sponsors consisting of JoAnn Albers, First Foundation Advisors, Mark Victor Hansen, Lee Ann Canaday / REMAX Fine Homes, Frome Family Foundation, Timothy J. Molnar, CFP, Disneyland Resort and Barbara and Mike Shangraw among others.

The Literacy Project Foundation will bring the gift of literacy to children as a foundational learning element to help achieve their personal dreams. Their mission is to enable at-risk and disadvantaged youth to increase their reading skill levels. The goal of the Foundation is to enable these children to become self-sufficient, productive and contributing members of our society.

www.literacyprojectfoundation.org