By Andria Barrios

In 2014, Sophie, a young girl in Valrico, was tragically diagnosed with both autism and leukemia. The 4-year-old patient then received a bone marrow transplant from her younger brother in January of this year. But the real tragic news came when Sophie’s doctor explained to her family that her beloved German Shepherd could no longer be kept with her condition. The dog was then taken to live with another family.

Three long months in the hospital following her transplant left Sophie longing for a puppy again. But last month, her dream of having a medically safe dog was made possible by the Children’s Dream Fund. A lovable fleece coat Labradoodle puppy was delivered to her door.

After receiving a referral from a child life specialist at All Children’s Hospital about Sophie and her family, the dream coordinator at Children’s Dream Fund determined that a Labradoodle would be medically safe for a cancer patient because of its hypoallergenic and minimal shedding properties. They received clearance from her doctor, and Sophie received her puppy, which was transported from a breeder in North Carolina.

“Sophie was thrilled,” explained Laura Sanchez, communications coordinator at Children’s Dream Fund. “The first time she saw a picture of the puppy, she decided to name him Marshall. Sophie’s mom knows that Marshall is going to bring a lot of joy to their whole family.”

The Children’s Dream Fund has never denied a dream. They work for children ages 3-18 with life threatening illnesses all over west central Florida. It is one of the oldest wish-granting organizations in the country, and celebrates 35 years of making dreams come true this year.

“A child’s dream can be anything, from a puppy to a trip to a room makeover. We try to make the dreams as special and personalized as possible,” said Dream Coordinator Mallory Young. Young loves her job of delivering children’s dreams to them in the form of a party. “I love seeing the looks on these children’s faces when they finally realize their dream.”

For more information on the Children’s Dream Fund, visit or, or follow on Twitter or Instagram.

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