Meet Jack, one of our Dream On 3 recipients!
Jack Bretz is an amazing 20 year old, who was recently diagnosed with ALL, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. ALL is an acute form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells. He was diagnosed back in August of 2013, and has been responding well to treatments at Novant Health.
Jack is a martial arts student at USK in Charlotte, NC and is quite experienced in the art of Tang Soo Do. He has reached red belt status, and was just shy of reaching black belt status when diagnosed. His instructor is Grand Master M.K. Kim, whose uncle, C.S. Kim, trained in the same South Korean martial arts school in which Chuck Norris had trained. Therefore, it is only fitting that Jack’s sports dream is to meet Chuck Norris and hopefully learn a few moves from the man himself! On Friday, July 18th, Jack and his family will be flying out to Las Vegas, for the chance of a lifetime, and to have his dreams come true! Please stay tuned to hear more about his amazing experience.
When Dream On 3 asked Jack what his ultimate sports dream was, he said, “I want to meet Chuck Norris, take a selfie, and put it on a tee shirt.” Too far-fetched? Not for the Dream Team! We could think of no one better to have your back in a fight than Jack’s sports hero Chuck Norris and the entire United Fighting Arts Federation. The wheels started turning and Operation Dream Selfie was underway.
This Dream had all of the ingredients for a great sendoff! We had our amazing referral partners at Novant Health, a small army of Jack’s fraternity brothers on summer break, and a Karate studio filled with all levels of age and skill. Add a limo, a police escort, and some confetti and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a spectacular sendoff! The kids that were attending camp at the US-K Martial Arts that week had drawn pictures captioned with “Beat Cancer” and “Breaking A.L.L.” on boards used for karate demonstrations. About 5 of the kids lined up and broke the boards in a very touching demonstration designed to symbolize the great gift of hope. We could tell that this outpouring of support moved Jack as he waved goodbye and drove off to live out his dream.
During the planning process, we were told that Mr. Norris would absolutely love for Dream On 3 to bring Jack and his family out to the tournament. The organization provided group access to the events and even assisted with getting accommodations donated by South Point Hotel & Casino. It was obvious that the culture of UFAF was one of service, respect, humility, and faith…a common thread that ran through every facet of the organization.
On Saturday night, Jack got the opportunity to meet Mr. & Mrs. Norris at the banquet and awards ceremony. Mr. Norris invited him up on stage to recognize him in front of the 1,100+ guests in attendance. The wonderful and most gracious host, Tara Cox, seated Jack and the Dream Team at her table, which was at the front of the banquet hall and directly beside Mr. & Mrs. Norris. As promised, Jack was invited onto the stage during the banquet ceremony. President of UFAF, Mr. Kenneth Gallacher, read out the following from his center stage podium…“On behalf of the United Fighting Arts Federation and in partnership with South Point Hotel & Casino, we are very excited to recognize a very special guest with us tonight, Mr. Jack Bretz.”
As the cameras began rolling and the flashes started going off, Mr. Gallacher read Jack’s story and dream to the audience. He assured Jack that he would never have to fight alone and said, “Jack, we’ve got your back!” He concluded by saying, “Jack, at this time Mr. Norris would like to invite you to join him on stage. Come on up and take your selfie!” The room erupted with cheers and tears as everyone rose to their feet in honor of this amazing young man and this amazing moment. Jack pulled out his phone, stretched out his arm, and captured a moment that he will never forget.
On Sunday morning, after a Highlights tour by airplane of the Grand Canyon (donated by Grand Canyon Tours), the team returned to the South Point Hotel & Casino early enough to take advantage of the photo session with the Norris brothers. Jack was led to the photo location and was immediately escorted through the back door entrance and allowed to bypass the long line of eager fans waiting out front.
The Norris brothers, Mr. Gallacher and all of the other UFAF representatives remembered Jack from the night before and were excited to see him again. They really took their time with Jack in that room. Jack had his picture made and then they invited Jack’s entire family to join in. That’s when God took over…
Mr. Norris walked over to Jack, put his hands on his shoulders and began talking to him again. Jack’s face was alive with pure joy and excitement. Mr. Norris then turned to the video camera and began speaking, “I want to let you know that the Board of Directors has met and reached a unanimous decision. On behalf of the United Fighting Arts Federation we would like to promote Jack to black belt. Jack is now a black belt in Chun Kuk Do and an official member of UFAF. This is exactly the kind of young man we like in our organization.”
It was a moment that was bigger than anyone could comprehend. This truly was a historic event! Mr. Norris and the UFAF are not in the business of just handing out black belts. They saw something in Jack that they felt was worthy of one of the highest honors in martial arts. They didn’t stop at making his Dream come true…they made him a part of their family and most likely changed his life forever.
To learn more about Jack’s Super Power go to http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-lymphocytic-leukemia/basics/definition/con-20042915
There are several people and organizations we would like to thank for making this Dream Experience possible:
Chuck & Gena Norris
United Fighting Arts Federation (UFAF)
South Point Hotel & Casino
US-K Martial Arts
Sigma Phi Epsilon UNC-Charlotte
Grand Canyon Tours
All Points Trucking