Yael is a five-year-old Central Florida boy living with a life-threatening illness. It is his dream to go on a cruise and see the ocean. Thanks to a group of students enrolled in the Cornerstone Course, that dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The team, “Hope’s Reality,” worked with the non-profit organization New Hope for Kids. Members included Andres AlvaradoTeddy and William DoodnauthMary Hannah Hardcastle and Cody Lynch. The group held fundraisers and events throughout the semester to help fund Yael’s wish.

“We had a large number of non-profit organizations that we could choose from this semester but from day one we knew that we wanted to choose a ‘project’ that would directly impact someone’s life. However, we never viewed it as a ‘project,’ we WANTED to help. We wanted to be part of something, and we wanted a cause that we could connect with. When we saw what New Hope for Kids did, we knew it was the non-profit for us,” said team member Mary Hannah Hardcastle.

Their hard work this semester earned them top prize and $1,000 in the recent Cornerstone Social Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition is designed to give students enrolled in the course a chance to showcase their achievements and gain experience giving professional presentations.

The three runner up teams were JA KnightsKnights Hope for Kids and Team Bag Pack.

The winning team was quick to credit Carl Blencke, instructor, Management Department with their success. “Without the accountability of Professor Blencke and our peers we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all we did this semester,” said Hardcastle.

Semi-final judges were: Leslie Connell, UCF;  Terry Knox, Boys Town;  Carl Blencke, UCF; Renee Jaggie, JA;  Phyllis Harris, UCF;   Rosie Wilder, New Hope for Kids;  Christopher Leo, UCF, and Mari Rains, UCF. Finals judges included: Dean Paul Jarley, UCF;  Amy Zeh, UCF; Jim, ’86 and ‘92 and Debbie Balaschak, ‘88. The event was made possible due to the generous support of the Balaschaks. They wish to encourage students to learn the value of volunteering now and hope that the experiences that they have in the Cornerstone program will continue after graduation.

You can read more about Yael and Hope’s Reality by visiting their Facebook page or website.