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In Case You Missed It - Local Teen's Dream Comes True In Washington, D.C.

June 30, 2017
Press Release
Trip Included A Special Visit with Congressman John Rutherford

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (June 30, 2017) – For 18-year-old Mandarin resident Mateo Seslija, the love for American history was his distraction from his medical battle with a germ cell tumor.

“All the days I was going through therapy I would search for fun facts, because it prevented me from feeling sick” stated Mateo. “One fact that excited me more than others was President Truman developed a two-lane bowling alley in the West Wing.”

When Mateo was introduced to Dreams Come True, Northeast Florida’s local wish-granting organization for children battling life-threatening illnesses, it was easy for him to decide on the perfect dream – bowling on the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley.

“Picturing myself doing my favorite pastime, while visiting the historical White House and making new memories with my family, just created a smile on my face,” said Mateo.

On June 20, 2017 with the support of Miller Electric Company, Dreams Come True sent Mateo and his family to Washington D.C. for five days. Mateo was finally able to experience the piece of history he found most intriguing. With his family, he enjoyed two hours of nonstop fun on the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley, located in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

In addition to visiting the White House and the famous bowling alley, Mateo was also welcomed to Washington D.C. by Florida Congressman John Rutherford and his staff. Arranged through the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Mateo and his family were given a tour of the Capitol Building and an inside look in to the office of Congressman Rutherford. Mateo spent time talking with the Congressman about his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and his involvement on various committees.

Congressman John Rutherford said, “Mateo’s courage and curiosity is inspiring. As a history buff myself, I was honored to host him and his family at my office in Washington, D.C. and show them around our nation’s Capitol. I’m so glad Mateo is cancer-free, and wish him the best as he attends college in the spring.”

Mateo’s visit to Washington D.C. also included a special visit to the Pentagon and lunch with Lieutenant General Ronald L. Bailey, Deputy Commandant Plans, Polices, and Operations for the United States Marines. In addition, Mateo toured Ford’s Theatre, the International Spy Museum and Newseum Museum.

Mateo, who was diagnosed cancer-free in November 2016, is one of more than 3,600 dreamers whose dreams have been fulfilled by Dreams Come True since 1984. In 2016, the local wish-granting organization fulfilled the dreams of 181 children on the First Coast and is expected to surpass its 2016 dream fulfillment number, with 90 dreams already completed in the first six months of 2017.

“Our mission is that every child from the First Coast who is battling a life-threatening illness has the chance to experience the hope and joy of a dream fulfilled, like Mateo” said Sheri Criswell, executive director of Dreams Come True. “We serve the children and their families throughout their medical journey and rely on the generosity of our local community to make dreams possible. It is because of support from our community that we have never denied an eligible child a dream or started a waiting list.”

Dreams Come True is the only locally-based, 100 percent community donor-funded, nonprofit whose mission is to grant  the dreams of every First Coast child battling a life-threatening illness or condition. To learn more, please visit or call 904-296-3030.

Photo Cutlines

Eisenhower Executive Office Building: The Seslija Family pictured outside the Eisenhower Executive Office building. (L-R) Leo (brother), Janko (father), Mateo (Dreamer) and Sanela (mother). Photo courtesy of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Mateo Dream Trip 003: Mateo, joined with his father (Janko) and brother (Leo), receive some great insight from Congressman John Rutherford during their tour of the Capitol Building. Photo courtesy of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Mateo Dream Trip 008: Mandarin resident, Mateo Seslija, had one dream – to bowl on the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley. On June 20th, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville, Northeast Florida’s locally based wish-granting organization, sent Mateo and his family on a 5-day dream trip to Washington D.C. and the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Mateo with Congressman Rutherford: 18-year-old Mateo Seslija enjoyed a five-day visit to the nation’s Capitol for his dream trip, provided by Dreams Come True of Jacksonville. As part of his visit, he was able to meet with Congressman John Rutherford to discuss the Congressman’s first term in the U.S. House of Representatives and his involvement on various committees. Photo courtesy of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

***Video of Mateo bowling (:08 in length) along with additional pictures and b-roll available at the following Drop Box LINK.