It took more than 80 volunteers, countless hours of hard work and thousands of dollars worth of donations, but Conner Cooper’s dream finally came true.


It took more than 80 volunteers, countless hours of hard work and thousands of dollars worth of donations, but Conner Cooper’s dream finally came true.
After receiving a kidney transplant in 2009, this Newton High School senior was granted a wish by the Dream Factory, an organization similar to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Although he could have wished for something just for himself, he chose to have his parents’ basement finished, picking a wish he could share with his family.
Conner and his family celebrated the fulfillment of his dream Friday night  at an open house where the family showed the new basement and thanked volunteers in the community for helping make Conner’s dream happen.
“It’s amazing, that transformation,” Conner’s mother Becky said of the renovated basement. “The basement used to be dark and dreary, but not anymore. It’s beautiful.”
Dick Smith, a dream manager with the Kansas City chapter of the Dream Factory, helped coordinate the fulfillment of Conner’s dream and said it has been a special journey.
Although he has been volunteering for more than a decade, he said he has never seen a project quite like this one.
He said he was impressed by the way Newton and other surrounding communities banded together to help the Coopers, donating labor and supplies. Volunteers went above and beyond Smith’s expectations—even shoveling snow off the Coopers’ driveway and sidewalks.
“I have never worked a dream that has the community support and generosity that this one has,” Smith said. “...It has been absolutely unbelievable.”
He addressed the crowd that gathered in the basement Friday night and said there was no way to adequately thank everyone who gave of their time and talents to help the Cooper family. He was grateful to be a part of the experience.
“I’ve been honored, humbled and proud to have played a small part in (Conner’s dream),” he said.
Conner said he couldn’t choose his favorite part of the renovated basement—he liked it all.
“It’s really nice,” he said. He was so excited he planned to start moving his things to the basement’s bedroom on Saturday. He said he wants to enjoy the remodeled basement for as long as he can before heading off to college. He is considering going to Pittsburg State University or Kansas State University and wants to study some type of design.
Whatever he decides, his family and the new friends he’s made through the Dream Factory project want him to keep on dreaming.
“What I think this illustrates for all of us...is that dreams do come true,” Mayor Willis Heck said at the open house. “It’s amazing what can be done.”