SOUTH BEND, IND. – For the past year, Caitlin Crommett's goal has been to transform a high school club she started in Orange County into a national organization.
DreamCatchers, a student service club that grants final wishes to terminally ill hospice patients, began as a club at Tesoro High School in Las Flores and, under Crommett's leadership, now boasts 25 chapters in 10 states.
On Nov. 17, Crommett's college, the University of Notre Dame, recognized her accomplishments in a big way when it aired a two-minute commercial about her group on NBC during a Notre Dame football game.
Titled "Fighting to Develop Great Leaders," the spot follows the Notre Dame sophomore as she arranges for a man dying of emphysema to be reunited with his extended family one last time. It was filmed by the college's public affairs department.
"It was unreal," said Crommett, 19, of Rancho Santa Margarita. "My parents held a viewing party at home and invited a whole bunch of her friends. My mom cried – they really liked it."
The ad is part of a series of Notre Dame commercials that spotlights various accomplishments and strengths of the university.
Notre Dame is supporting Crommett's efforts to expand DreamCatchers through its Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, which sent Crommett and a friend on a six-week tour of five U.S. cities last summer to establish more clubs.
"Our program is based on the core belief that each person can truly make a difference," Notre Dame Professor Joseph Buttigieg, director of the Hesburgh-Yusko program, says on the commercial.
Crommett, who attended Saturday's game against Wake Forest, watched the commercial in the Notre Dame stadium's press box Saturday when it aired live on NBC, she said.
Crommett started DreamCatchers at Tesoro High as a sophomore, after volunteering at a local hospice and realizing she could help in a more meaningful way.
In three years, Crommett granted more than 20 dreams, including a last sailboat ride for an ocean lover and a final reunion with family members who lived far away. She also set up a private viewing of a "Harry Potter" movie for a fervent fan who wasn't expected to live until the film's opening in theaters; the patient, however, died before the dream could be granted, Crommett said.
Crommett, now in her second year at Notre Dame, is double-majoring in theater and business. She hopes to become an actress as well as the CEO of a national network of DreamCatchers clubs.
She was named by The Orange County Register in 2011 as one of 10 O.C. high school graduates who will change the world.
To watch Crommett's two-minute commercial, visit: youtube.com/watch?v=tpfSUfd83Uk&feature=plcp.
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