Hopes, Dreams & Smiles

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Kick'n Up Kountry's CEO Ardell Larson and major sponsor, Glen Brazier, CEO of Mattracks, are pleased to continue to support and be actively involved in Hopes, Dreams & Smiles.

The organization was founded by Ardell Larson in 2007. Each year they continue to bring children with life threatening illnesses (along with their parents and one sibling) who are country music fans to the Kick'n Up Kountry Music Festival. The Board selects names of children from Sanford Hospital, Fargo, ND and Altru Hospital, Grand Forks, ND. Participating families have a pleasurable limo ride to the event and have a memorable time meeting all of the artists, as well as enjoying a day of entertainment and festivities. Hopes, Dreams & Smiles enables the families to enjoy the entire trip free of charge.

If you are interesed in donating to this worthy cause, you can send your donation to:

Hopes, Dreams & Smiles
ATTN: Ardell Larson
249 South State Ave
Lake Bronson, MN 56734

Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by the law and checks should be made out to: Hopes, Dreams & Smiles. For more information about how you can support these children, contact the host family: David, Diane and Brittany Wells at (218) 230-3413 or (218) 230-3414.

Hopes, Dreams & Smiles Gallery

How It All Began

In 2004, the first year of the Kick’n Up Kountry music festival in Hallock, Minnesota, a gentleman by the name of David Wells called about tickets for the show. He asked what entertainers were coming and I read off the list of artists and when I got to the name of Neal McCoy, he said "You have got to be kidding! That is my daughters favorite artist! She is 14 years old and has leukemia. If I buy tickets do you think you could make it possible for her to meet him?" I told him to have her write a letter to Neal McCoy, and send along some pictures, which she did and I contacted Neal McCoy’s road manager and he said "Of course he’ll see her!"

When it came time to meet him, I walked beside her in the line and when I seen the joy, smiles, and excitement I just brought to that girl for even one day or one weekend I became determined to make this happen for more children with a life threatening illness.

David , Diane, and Brittany Wells have now volunteered to be the host family for this part of the festival since it meant so much to Brittany that first year. They now meet with the hospitals, and the families that will be coming each year and take care of them at the festival.

The first meeting of the advisory board was held at the Best Western in Thief River Falls on Oct .17, 2007. At that meeting it was decided to allow the child with the life threatening illness, the parents, and one sibling to attend the festival through the Hopes, Dream, and Smiles fund. The child receives a gift bag with lots of fun things to remember the weekend by, and the whole family receives VIP tickets, an overnight stay at a motel, special seating at the festival, an autograph and picture taking session with the artists and a Limo ride to and from the festival.

We work with area hospitals to select children that will enjoy this weekend. They have to be a country music fan and have a life threatening illness. We have been working with Sanford Health in Fargo, and Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. The committee decided to include Gillette’s Children’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic.

This year 12 children were chosen to attend the festival with their families, but due to being ill from their Chemo treatments, only 5 were actually able to attend.

I received the sad news recently that Brandon Lunski had passed away. Just 19 years old I am so honored and pleased that I got to put a smile on his face and give him an enjoyable weekend while he was here. This makes me even more determined to make it possible for even more children with a life threatening illness to spend an enjoyable weekend at Kick’n Up Kountry next year.

We're requesting your help to make this happen and thank you in advance!

Will you help? If so you may send a check directly to:

Attn: Ardell Larson
Hopes, Dreams & Smiles
249 South State Ave
Lake Bronson, MN 56734

Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by the law and should be made out as follows: Hopes, Dreams & Smiles.

You will be recognized on our website and in the Kick’n Up Kountry Festival Program.


Ardell Larson, President
Kick’n Up Kountry, Inc.

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