BOULDER — After Dana Phillips recovered from open-heart surgery, she confided to her career coach her biggest dream: to work in an orphanage in Africa.
The realization that she could have died in surgery and the love and support she received from friends and family pushed her to re-examine her dreams, she said.
“When soul searching, humanitarian issues always come up for me,” said Phillips, 42, a Boulder massage therapist. “During my recovery, I had so much love coming in, I didn’t realize how much I was loved. It made me realize I should live what I believe and what I dream. Live my life now instead of in the future.”
But even though she was serious about making her dream happen, she didn’t know how she would do it. Phillips suffers from the neurological disorder hereditary cerebellar ataxia, which affects her balance and coordination and causes hand tremors. Three years ago, doctors diagnosed her with a severe heart murmur, caused by a rupture in her aorta. She underwent heart surgery in September.
Little did she know that her career coach, Boulder author Sue Frederick, would immediately decide to make her client’s dream come true and, at the same time, realize a dream of her own.
Frederick decided to create a nonprofit to help Phillips and others fulfill dreams that would help make the world a better place. That was the beginning of the BrilliantDay Giggle Dream Project. She made Phillips the first recipient of the Giggle Dream Award, which she will receive at a benefit luncheon June 10 at the Westin Hotel in Westminster.
The award is $5,000 — enough to pay for airfare and program fees to work in an orphanage in Tanzania, East Africa, for three weeks this summer through the nonprofit www.CrossCulturalSolutions .org, which matches volunteers with projects in Third World countries. Local business sponsors supplied the award money.
“Her courage and fearlessness inspired me so much that I wanted to help Dana do this,” Frederick said.
“She is so amazing because she has had so many physical changes in her life, yet this woman has no self-pity.”
Phillips will assist in the education and care of the children living in an orphanage in the village of Rau outside of Moshi. Many of the children lost their parents to AIDS.
In 2005, Frederick self-published several books about finding passion in work and life, including “Dancing at Your Desk” and “BrillantDay.”
Frederick said clients tell her their dreams, but unless a dream is big enough and outrageous enough to make someone giggle, they are not going to have the passion to follow through.
Then she decided to fulfill a “giggle dream” of her own.
“I thought ‘What would help me giggle is to help many people go after their dreams,’” Frederick said. “That’s one of the ideas behind the dreams: It has to be big enough and outrageous enough that it has to make you giggle. And once it makes you giggle, then it has energy behind it and it will rally the energy of other people.”
Phillips will leave for Africa on Aug. 12.
For now, she works part-time as a massage therapist. She is unsure what she will do when she returns, but she is determined to work in a humanitarian field, she said.
Those who want to enter the 2007 BrilliantDay Giggle Dream contest should e-mail Sue@
BrilliantWork.com with an essay or business plan answering these three questions in 1,000 words or less: Why does your dream make you giggle? How will it make the world a better place? How much money will it need to come true?
The BrilliantDay Giggle Dream Team will review proposals until June 2007.
If you go
What: 2006 BrilliantDay Giggle Dream Benefit Luncheon, for those who want to go after their dreams. Proceeds go to the Giggle Dream Nonprofit Foundation to fund Dana Phillip’s trip to Africa and future Giggle Dream winners.
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 10
Where: Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster
Cost: $50, includes lunch
Information: Call 303-939-8574 or visit www.BrilliantDayRevolution
.com and click on the “Giggle Dream” icon.
Susan Glairon can be reached at 303-684-5224 or email@example.com.