When children battling life-threatening illnesses think of what their dream wish would be, often it’s a trip to Disney World, a cruise or some other destination vacation.
But what 3-year-old Ponte Vedra resident Rue Andeer dreamed of most was a puppy – and a puppy is exactly what she got. A 16-week old female Bernese mountain dog and poodle mix – or “bernedoodle” – named Bolt was presented to Rue during a surprise party thrown in her honor June 24 at the Dreams Come True offices in Jacksonville. In addition to her father Eric, mother Casey and 5-year-old older brother Bode, the party was attended by friends and Dreams Come True staff and supporters.
Told she was going to a princess party, Rue dressed the part, donning a pink skirt, Disney’s “Frozen” t-shirt and tiara. The party room was decorated to the hilt, adorned with pink and purple tablecloths, balloons, “Frozen” party favors – even “Frozen”-themed confetti and life-sized cutouts of the “Frozen” movie characters: Elsa, Anna and Olaf.
Leading up to the surprise reveal, Rue was first given a number of gifts
including The Usborne “Write Your Own Story Book,” a Build-A-Bear Workshop puppy stuffed animal with a princess shirt, a Dreams Come True backpack and a dream wand.
Then it was time for Dream Manager Courtney Andrews to reveal to Rue the main event. When Bolt entered, Rue’s face lit up and she smiled from ear-to-ear as she crossed the room to greet her new friend.
A dog was always something at the forefront of her daughter’s wishes, Casey Andeer said. Rue’s parents toyed with the idea of a Taylor Swift concert, Disney World or “Frozen” on Broadway as possible dreams, but it was always dog first, ahead of the other dreams.
“I was at the point where I would get her an elephant if she wanted an elephant,” she said. “She’s been through so much and this is going to get her through the rest of treatment.”
Rue was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October 2015 and is on track to complete her treatment within the next two years. Rue was referred to Dreams Come True in November 2015 by Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, one of Dreams Come True’s referring partners.
Several other local businesses and individuals came together to help make Rue’s puppy dream possible, including Green Dog Spa, Petland off Beach Boulevard, Dogwood Park, Deerwood Animal Clinic and Publix Supermarkets, which made a puppy-decorated cake for the festivities.
Bolt – who was provided by Ranch House Bernedoodles – traveled from Colorado to Jacksonville earlier in the week to unite with her new family. Rue’s new puppy received special training by Sandra Lynn’s Dog Training in Colorado. Both businesses donated a portion of their services towards Rue’s dream.
The Andeer family was also given dog food, a puppy care package, toys and gift certificates to help take care of their new, coveted family member that was a dream come true.
“How I look at (Dreams Come True) now is they’re a teammate and they’ve done so much stuff that just brightened her days,” Andeer said. “They are such an amazing organization that I want to be a part of forever.”