Nancy and Tim Opremcak received the most heart-wrenching news that parents could possibly receive in October of 2004 when their 11 year old son Bryan was diagnosed with one of the most aggressive forms of a brain tumor.

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The life-altering news set the family on a journey of a 15-month battle with the rare and severe tumor. Bryan had been the typical healthy boy before the devastating diagnosis.

After the 15 month battle, Bryan passed away in January 2006 at the age of 12.

Almost immediately, Nancy and Tim got the ball rolling on a charity in Bryan's name that would help families going through what they had just gone through. The discussions on the way home from the hospital on the day Bryan died morphed into Bryan's Dream Foundation.

The Opremcak's gathered friends, family and colleagues close to them as part of the all-volunteer board. The charity was founded in February of 2006.

The premise of Bryan's Dream Foundation is to provide financial assistance, support, as well as holiday programs for families with a child with a brain tumor. The foundation is not one, though, that is just writing checks to the families.

"We pay bills that are a little bit different than other organizations might handle," Nancy said, "We want to focus on the whole family situation."

Those bills include things, such as a car payment, gasoline, rent, or any other expense to help bridge the gap during the lengthy and expensive process of the illness.

"We touch the families directly. I think that's what makes us unique in what we do," she said.

In just 6 years, the charity has answered over 400 requests for financial assistance, with Nancy estimating they have donated over $250 thousand across the country to the 25 hospitals they deal with. In addition, Bryan's Dream Foundation has an extensive holiday giving program that includes an adopt a family initiative during Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as gift bag distributions.

Most importantly, though, the foundation gives family and friends a way to honor the memory of Bryan, while being able to give back.

"One of the things when you lose a child that you fear the most is that no one will talk about them again," she explained, "With Bryan's Dream Foundation, there's almost not a day that goes by that Bryan is not referred to."

Nancy credits the charity's sustained growth to a loyal donor base and volunteer contingent, even during a tough economic time.

"We're hoping that through what we're doing that we are making a difference. And, I know we are in the lives of these others kids that are fighting their battles, as well."

You can learn more about the Bryan's Dream Foundation online and by visiting their Facebook page.

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