Colleges are known for their unconventional clubs, and the University of Dayton is no different. Unique to Dayton, Distance 4 Dreams is an organization that raises funds to send a terminally ill child and their family to Disney World for a week. While the child and their family are treated like royalty as they conquer the parks, about 50 members of the club run a Disney-hosted half or full marathon in early January, and some enthusiastic members even run both races.
D4D partners with Dayton’s local Make-a-Wish Foundation chapter, which matches the team with a child and their family. D4D usually gets a chance to meet and get to know their wish child. Last year, D4D hosted a pizza party for their wish child, where they ate pizza, decorated cookies, and watched a slideshow of the wish child’s Disney World experience. D4D loves the opportunities to directly engage with their wish child, which serves as a reminder of why their club exists.
Especially noteworthy, some of the biggest and most successful fundraisers that D4D organizes are the Pancake Breakfast and Minnie 5k. Held on U Dayton’s Parents’ Weekend, the Pancake Breakfast raises close to $3,000 dollars each year. During this event, for which D4D spends tremendous time preparing months in advance, Dayton students, parents, and siblings enjoy Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, eggs, bagels, donuts, sausage, coffee, raffle prizes, Disney music, and great company. At D4D’s second biggest fundraiser, the Minnie 5k, students and community members run a 5k around campus dressed up as Disney characters with Disney songs playing over the loudspeaker.
Although fundraising money for their wish child is a significant aspect of their club, D4D also participates in casual activities. Every Sunday afternoon, the club gathers for long runs where members run in groups to complete their strenuous training. Other fun activities include pasta parties, white elephant gift exchanges during the holidays, cookie decorating parties, and ice cream runs. A very close-knit and inspiring group, they have fun with everything they do.
Working hard year-round, D4D aspires to motivate others to join this great cause and offer Make-A-Wish children an unforgettable experience. With all of their unique fundraisers and exciting fitness and leisure events, this club is a great campus find. Distance 4 Dreams would like to remind everyone, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Michelle Baker is a junior at the University of Dayton majoring in dietetics, with an emphasis in sports nutrition. She plans to become a registered sports dietitian.
Photo Credit: Michelle Baker