On Thursday at Etowah High School, there was a gym packed with eager students, teachers, friends and family, for a ceremony planned out to the minute, to celebrate a trip organized to make dreams come true. A limo waited outside. All of this was for Etowah sophomore Anderson Sisk.
Sisk is described by those who know him as kind-hearted, popular, enthusiastic and outgoing. He loves all sports, but his passion is World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as WWE. Sisk has Down syndrome, but that never stops him from laughing with his friends, cheering on Etowah sports teams or pursuing his dreams of being a country music star like Blake Shelton.
When Etowah health and physical education teachers Lindsey Alexander and Victoria Carter learned about the Dream on 3 organization they knew they needed to nominate Sisk.
“I taught him in adaptive PE and knew that he met all the requirements and was very deserving of this special treatment,” Alexander said. “He is enthusiastic, he can handle crowds, he was the perfect candidate.”
Dream on 3 is a “sports nonprofit organization with a mission to make dreams come true for children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities or life-altering conditions by creating experiences of joy and magic through the world of sports.”
Dream on 3 encourages students to get involved with their organization through the Jr. Dream Team program. It allows students to plan the dream experience for a fellow student at their school.
Etowah embraced the opportunity and created a team of students to help make Sisk’s dream come true. Bryant Madden, Cade Gantt, Jaxon Etter, Maggie Messerly, Matt Lane, Mollie Deane, Rhod Many, Ally Zazzara and Tori Ridgeway all worked tirelessly to make sure that Sisk’s dream went off without a hitch.
“Obviously the main point was helping Anderson live out his dream,” Etowah High School Principal Robert Horn said. “However we feel an equally important aspect of this program was empowering our students on the Dream Team. They were tasked with taking ownership of planning and fundraising events, planning the send off event and promotion of the event in the community. They learned more about servant leadership and did an amazing job.”
Sisk knew that he had a surprise coming his way but he didn’t know the magnitude of the experience until Thursday morning when he was the star of the pep rally.
“It was a full pep rally but the focus was strictly on Anderson,” Alexander said. “A representative from Dream on 3 spoke, the Dream Team introduced the event and what Anderson would be doing, presented Dream on 3 with a $5,632 fundraising check and then the main event was when Anderson got to wrestle the Etowah Eagle. It was an amazing time.”
Once Sisk defeated the Etowah Eagle mascot in the match of the century, Sisk’s girlfriend, Maggie Tressler (a Dream on 3 nominee as well), surprised him with a personalized championship belt.
After the pep rally, Sisk hopped in the limo with his family and was taken to the airport to fly to St. Louis, where he would attend a WWE show, meet the wrestlers, go behind the scenes and get a tour of the city.
Alexander said that the process was worth the effort it took to put together. She said the students were hesitant at first, but when they realized that it was all to make Sisk’s dream come true, everyone got on board.
“Everyone responded really well. It was the best event we have had in a long time,” Alexander said. “We would definitely do this again. It was a lot of work in a short amount of time, but it was well worth it to see the excitement from Anderson and the school.”
Dream on 3 was started in 2012 by Brandon and Elizabeth Lindsey when Brandon felt the call from God to begin something bigger than himself. He answered the call from God and realized that the main focus of Dream on 3 would be “an opportunity to serve” and to make sure deserving children got a chance to live their dream. For more information about Dream on 3 or to get involved visit www.dreamon3.org/