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Manitoba teen with kidney disease Zooms with Dolly Parton

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A teenager from Steinbach, Man. living with end-stage kidney disease got the chance to have a digital face-to-face with a country music legend.

The Dream Factory, a Manitoba-based charity dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of children battling life-threatening illnesses, began working with Fallon when she was 12 years old.

She pitched one of the organization’s most unique dreams to date.

“She wanted to meet Dolly Parton,” the Dream Factory’s development and marketing manager’s Karly Tardiff told CTV News Winnipeg.

“So, it was a tall order because as we know, Dolly is an idol, so getting in touch with her was going to be a big deal.”

Dream Factory staff were working more than just 9 to 5 to make the dream a reality. They started sending off a few direct messages on Instagram, hoping to get the country icon’s attention, to no avail.

Instead of boarding the Heartbreak Express to an Island in the Stream, one of the Dream Factory’s administrative employees Julie had the idea to call Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

He took the call, and then reached out to the mayor of Pigeon Forge – a town nearly 350 kilometres east of Nashville that is home to Dollywood, the Dolly Parton theme park.

Eventually, Fallon’s wish made it to Parton’s team. After months of planning, the now 13-year-old got the chance on Saturday to have a Zoom call with her idol.

“She had just come out of the emergency room, so it was perfect timing. It really lifted her spirits,” Tardiff recalled.

“We were kind of just waiting in the office here and then all of a sudden, Dolly pops up on screen. She was like ‘hey Fallon!’ with her twang and everything. Fallon just lit up.”

According to the organization, Fallon learned about Parton’s songwriting process, the happenings at Dollywood and was even serenaded by the Grammy-winning artist.

From new puppies to bedroom makeovers to trips to Disney World, Tardiff said the dreams the charity grants are a bright spot in an otherwise dark time for kids like Fallon.

Additionally, the child’s whole family gets to be involved in the experience – something the Dream Factory takes pride in.

“Dreams like this can't come true without folks in the community,” Tardiff explained, noting the organization operates without government funding.

More information on the Dream Factory can be found on its website.

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