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Dream It Do It Contest

Dream It Do It Contest

When Dreams Come True, Communities Grow Stronger

The Dream It. Do it. Contest was conceived to help deserving families and individuals, demonstrate community support, and to raise awareness of First Bank and its full-service offerings. Now that it is concluded, we can only declare it a resounding success.

3,300+ entries from across the Carolinas.
426 Cities and towns in North and South Carolina
10 Lives changed for the better!

Meet our winners!

Meet our winners!
Marianne Kernan
Marianne Kernan Linden Lodge Foundation
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The Linden Lodge Foundation, Inc., an all‑volunteer organization serving all of Moore County, NC, is dedicated to the recovery of men and women with a serious and persistent mental illness by providing opportunities for our residents to live, work, and learn, while contributing their talents through a community of mutual support. We do this through providing a safe, “home‑like” residence and the development of innovative motivational, educational and vocational prospects.

Unique to Linden Lodge is the belief that challenging and supportive work in a healthy environment can re‑establish self‑esteem while reintegrating into the community. The Linden Lodge property consists of 6.57 acres in Moore County, and currently has a 7 bedroom and 3 bath home – which can house 6 residents and one (1) 24 hour staff member. The property currently has grounds where a garden nursery operated for 20 years, 2 water wells, garden cold frames, and an outbuilding for art and music therapy and physical fitness activities in addition to peer support group meetings.

The $10,000 in funding from First Bank will be used to construct a small house on our grounds for a resident or residents to transition into for 6 months before striking out for total independent living. This is a project that we have envisioned for several years and would love to make this DREAM a reality with the support from First Bank. Thank you for your support with this important endeavor to our program.

James McLean
James McLean The Blue Blazers
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My dream is to begin a mentor group that understands the importance of citizenship, teamwork, dedication and hard work. In my dream I accumulate a group of young men from varied socio‑economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. A group that comes in a little rough around the edges and eventually evolves into a collection of young men that will become leaders in their homes, school, and community.

In my dream we do not exit young men from the program if they make a mistake, but we rededicate ourselves to the task of being influential for change in their daily lives. In my dream my guys would be easily recognized by a signature Blue Blazer.

“The Blue Blazers” are the fruit of this dream that was formulated years ago. Over the course of the last three years, we have served well over sixty young men in our program. Blazer membership is limited to eighth grade students that are nominated by current members. Once you receive an invitation to join, you are a Blazer for life. We are not only embedded in the school community at Carver Middle, but also engrained in the very fiber of Scotland County.

Blazers participate in the Scotland county “clean sweep” (litter pick up program), raise funds and volunteer at community Thanksgiving dinners, participate in an annual toy drive to present gifts to kids at Christmas, serve as greeters and escorts at school sponsored events, and maintain a standard or excellence within our school and local community. The Blazers have been recognized on WPDE’s Cecil Chandler’s show, and also received various acknowledgements locally. Our guys are committed to complete one community service event each month.

My hope is that First Bank will help us continue to make the dream a reality. The funds will be use to enhance our community outreach, maintain/purchase Blazers, provide additional off campus enrichment opportunities for our young men during non‑school months, and also begin an evidenced based life skills program within our group.

Jessica & Kevin Dietzel
Jessica & Kevin Dietzel Spread Love for Miles
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When our son, Miles was very young he was rushed to the hospital having a seizure. We didn’t know it at the time, but we would spend the next month at the hospital with little more than what we brought with us at the time. Luckily, we had family near by who could help a bit, but others are not so lucky. We would like to make packages for families who are put into these stressful situations as a way to provide some of the basic necessities.

Each package would include things like vouchers for the hospital’s cafeteria, toiletries, refillable water bottles, pillows, blankets, Starbucks gift cards, phone chargers, and a variety of other essentials. Each one of these packages would cost somewhere around $120 and we’d like to make enough to cover 40 packages.

This would be enough to give one package to each of the twenty rooms in the pediatric intensive care unit at UNC Children’s Hospital twice. This care package program is born out of our 501(c)(3) non‑profit organization, Spread Love for Miles.

After many hospitalizations our son Miles eventually, unfortunately succumbed to his illness and Spread Love for Miles was created out of us wanting to do something good to honor his memory. The money we raised from an event was enough to fund our IRS paperwork to become a recognized 501(c)(3) non‑profit and to start working towards our organization’s goals.

The money we would receive from this contest would help us achieve one of the three main programs we had in mind when we started Spread Love for Miles: - Creating packages like these for families who are experiencing unexpected extended stays in hospitals - Purchasing specialized car seats for older children who are fully or partially paralyzed - Sponsorship of exceptional needs children for equipment they may need such as wheelchairs and ramps or equipment related to physical or speech therapy.

Christopher Branch
Christopher Branch Computer for a Student
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Christopher Branch is a 16 year old who is a freshman in Fairmont, NC. He is in need of a computer to help him with his school work. He was just transferred to his third foster home since 2011. He is being provided with the basic necessities, but there is no money available for other needs.

He is from the East Lumberton area and attempted to begin kindergarten when he was five years old. He was then placed in homebound services through the Public Schools of Robeson County. He was unable to go to school like other children because his immune system was so weak the common cold would send him to the hospital. He was born with a rare type of dwarfism called Cartilage Hair Hypoplasia Syndrome, along with this comes a history of recurrent pneumonia with resultant bronhiectasis (progressive lung disease), reactive airway disease, gastro-esophageal reflux, and a low t-cell function. The low t-cell function caused him to need a bone marrow transplant.

He was in Duke’s Children hospital for a year because the first transplant was unsuccessful and he required another procedure. The same year he was released he returned to Homebound Services. He began school in the fourth grade at Tanglewood Elementary and then moved to the mountains of NC for three years with his second foster parents.

He has now returned to Robeson County to live but is in need of help with his school supplies. He would be so appreciative if you could help him with getting a computer.

Kim Smith
Kim Smith A Chance to Dance
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I started A Chance To Dance in the summer of 2015 with 7 students and I now have 43 affected by Autism, Down Syndrome, Blindness, Tuberous Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Schizencephaly, Williams Syndrome, Double Amputee, Achondroplasia, Seizure Disorder, Sensory Integration Dysfunction and many other special needs.

A Chance To Dance believes that God has a plan for these children, that we should love them through their journey and imagine all the wonderful things they will accomplish and we use the magic of dance to help children build friendships, confidence, skill and a sense of accomplishment.

We have a recreational and a competitive special needs program for our dancers who are differently abled and my DREAM is to have our own studio space just for these students. Right now we use a lovely room at a studio but it’s only available on the weekends and we’ve outgrown the space.

We have students on a waitlist but if I were able to offer more classes during the week we could provide dance to more families and the kids would feel so special having their very own dance room where we could hang all their dance photos and make it theirs. Please help me make my dream come true for these very deserving children.

The funds would be used to expand the program through access to rental studio space and the operating costs for that space. If we were blessed to be awarded a smaller amount funds would be used for recital costumes, music, classroom props, dance scholarships and regional, national, and world entry fees for our special needs competitive teams. I dream BIG for these kiddos. Thank you for your consideration and God bless you for what you’re doing.

Chase Clark
Chase Clark Helping a Teen Help Others
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13‑year old Chase Clark is the founder and visionary of Chase’s Chance. She is a vivacious young lady who believes where there is a need in the world, we should help!

She began raising funds by asking neighbors, church members, anyone who would listen, to save aluminum cans which allowed her to save and contribute towards others and their needs. She sponsors needs such as paying for a child to attend a field trip so that they are not left behind, opening a teachers closet so that a school has resources throughout the school year for students and teachers, paying towards lunch debt so all children can eat without the fear of being turned away, and toiletry items to Puerto Rico and Rwanda. This list certainly goes on but she does this day in and day out. Most recently, she sold t‑shirts and candles and asked the community to jump in and assist with larger projects, such as raising money to donate to Make‑A‑Wish or towards the Children’s Home Society of NC.

My request for her is two‑parted. Because she does so much for others I would love to see something be returned to her on a personal level. Perhaps a small portion to go towards her with a laptop to help organize her organization, a bedroom make‑over, a trip, or perhaps a small shopping spree. Perhaps some funds towards her college fund, to help live her dream of attending UNC or Spellman at the college level. It is rare that she ever ask for anything so I felt it important to include Chase.

Next, I would love to see that a donation be made to her program which will allow her to move forward with her mission to serve. Since the 2nd grade she has risen to the occasion where there is a need in sight and in 2013 Chase’s Chance was born. She is unknowingly changing the face of how we determine our level of service to the local and international community. Her influence at this age reminds us that we all can bring change without excuses. She encourages many to want to “do better.” With your help she can continue to move “mountains” and encourage others to continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Bryan Bennett
Bryan Bennett Home for a hero
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My brother is 32 years old and has been a firefighter since he was a junior in high school. He volunteered for 10 years and was then promoted to paid staff, and he’s now Assistant Chief for Howe Springs Fire Department.

His passion for the fire service is apparent. He consistently works a full week, and still runs calls after hours, and on the weekends he helps with events and training. In addition to his responsibilities as a firefighter, he has not just participated, but organized and managed numerous fund raisers and donations for various individuals in need around the Florence community. This past year he organized a golf tournament and a charity ride to benefit injured firefighter/paramedic, Tessie Smith. During Hurricane Matthew he worked 72 hours straight rescuing/evacuating people, and then after the hurricane he gathered donations and delivered the collections to the Nichols community.

My brother works so hard and gives so much to our community, but because of the limited salaries of firefighters and his selfless contributions, he’s found it difficult to save enough money for a down payment on a home. He currently rents, and it’s his dream to marry his fiancé, Brittany, this December and buy a home. So when I saw a brochure in my local First Bank branch, promoting a contest to make dreams happen, I immediately thought of my brother. I would love to see First Bank make the dreams of this firefighter come true. I can assure you there is no one more deserving than this local hometown hero.

Close up of Bryan coming in for the surprise.
On a sunny day in Florence, SC, friends and family members waited with balloons, a big check, and smiles to surprise Bryan and Brittany Bennett with the news that they had been chosen as one of the Dream It, Do It winners.
John Long, First Bank regional executive, congratulates Bryan during the surprise.
Here John Long, First Bank regional executive, congratulates Bryan during the surprise.
Bryan and his sister Mandy hug.
Bryan had been nominated for the prize by his sister, Mandy.
Bryan and Brittany stand side by side with the check.
Bryan and Brittany, recently married in early December, will use the funds to help set up their new home, purchased the same week as their wedding.
Bryan and his family standing by the large check.
The very deserving winner, his family, and the local First Bank team.
Red balloons with the contest logo on them.
First Bank is proud to support this hometown hero and his dream.
Jamie Adams
Jamie Adams Quality of life renovations
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In 2000, my husband and I moved into our home and it was perfect. The bedrooms were upstairs so the mess and clutter would be hidden and the living space was all downstairs. Fast forward to 2004, and our youngest daughter was born. Around a year old we started to notice that something was not right, she was not hitting milestones like her sister.

A month after her third birthday Jamie was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA involves the loss of nerve cells called motor neurons in the spinal cord, which results in the atrophy in Jamie’s muscles. Jamie has been in a wheelchair since she was 5 years old full time.

Our house has now become Jamie’s biggest obstacle in her independence. Our dream is to add a handicap bathroom and bedroom downstairs for Jamie. Jamie is the most independent kid in the world, but is currently unable to wash her hands in her own home without assistance. We have been able to work through about half the funding, but the remaining has been a struggle.

The team outside of his house.
With some careful planning, the First Bank team surprised Jamie at their home on a mild winter day in Washington, NC.
Jamie and her sister react to the surprise.
Jamie and her sister react to the surprise. They initially thought their neighbors were having a party.
Close up of Jamie learning that they had won.
Jamie learns that her mom entered the family in the Dream It, Do It contest to make her dream of an accessible home a reality.
The happy First Bank team holds the big check and balloons.
The happy First Bank team holds the big check and balloons.
Close up of Jamie outdoors.
Jamie took the surprise and the news with grace and a good sense of humor.
The winner, her family, and the local First Bank team.
The winner, her family, and the local First Bank team.
First Bank is proud to support this wonderful family and their dream.
First Bank is proud to support this wonderful family and their dream.
Silverio Herrera
Silverio Herrera Achieving the American Dream
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My husband is the hardest worker I know. Originally from Mexico, he has worked hard to learn the skill of laying concrete for the last 11 years. He works 70-80 hours a week in the hot sun, often without a lunch break as he is so busy. After getting his residency several years back, his dream was to own his own concrete company. We were on the way to making that dream a reality when our then 20‑month old son was diagnosed with cancer.

Through 3 1/2 years of treatment, and now 2 years after treatment, my husband has worked tirelessly to pay for medical bills, traveling to specialists and supporting our family. He has obtained insurance for business and does side work for homeowners on the side on the weekend just so I can stay home and take my son to the myriad of medical appointments he has as he now has severe Intractable Epilepsy from his chemo treatments.

Slowly my husband has started saving again to launch his own company. He wants to be his own boss and bring in more income so he can make sure that we are always secure and I can continue to stay home with our 6 year old son and 5 year old daughter to just concentrate on them and their health. The biggest obstacle he faces is buying heavy equipment to be able to contract out his services. Specifically a Skid Steer. We have some money saved, yet in need of more to be able to buy a quality used Skid Steer which is pertinent to a business in concrete. A grant of 10K to help be able to purchase a Skid Steer would ensure that he could finally begin to contract out his services, make a higher income, and ultimately spend more time with his family.

He came here for the American Dream so many years ago, and he is determined to obtain that dream, along with the dream of getting his Citizenship soon. He is proud to be able to pursue that dream with hard work and optimism, and show our children, especially our son, that no matter what happens in life, if you work hard you will prosper. Thank you for the opportunity to help my husband make his dream...OUR dream a reality!