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BIG Dream Gathering comes to Madison on October 4


This event, free and open to the public, brings together participants who want guidance on turning their dreams into reality and is led by speaker, author and success coach Mitch Matthews.


A BIG Dream Gathering, fueled by American Family Insurance, will take place Wednesday, October 4 from 6:15 – 8:30 p.m. on the UW-Madison campus in Varsity Hall at Union South, 1308 W. Dayton Street. The event is free and open to the public, and appropriate for anyone who wants support in turning their dreams into reality.

The BIG Dream Gathering was conceived and is run by Mitch Matthews, a keynote speaker, author and success coach and what he calls a “Chief Dream Catalyst.” The event begins with an entertaining and inspiring keynote address from Mitch. Then participants are brought together to write down their dreams, goals and aspirations, and then get feedback from others on strategies and ideas to help make them a reality. Mitch has facilitated these events all across the country.

It started as a “happy accident” in co-founder’s home
Matthews and his wife got the idea for the Gatherings when they needed help with one of their own big dreams. In 2006, they’d tried to go after a goal of launching a new product idea, but then they were hit by a number of setbacks. As a result, they almost gave up.

But instead, the Matthews decided to throw a party and call it a “BIG Dream Gathering.”

They invited their closest friends to their home. As people arrived everyone was asked to write some of their dreams and goals down on sheets of paper. Next, they were instructed to tape the “dream sheets” on the walls. Finally, everyone walked around and looked at each other’s dreams and goals to see if they could help by offering encouragement, connections, ideas or help.

That first Gathering was only supposed to last for a few hours, but it wound up lasting for a full week. First the Matthews’ friends came, but within 48 hours, word had spread and strangers were coming to hang their dreams on the walls.

“It was crazy. But at the same time, it was really inspiring. Plus, it was an example of what can happen when people give themselves permission to dream,” Matthews explains.

After that first gathering, the Matthews got some help with their own dream. Plus, they saw a number of other dreamers get help too. So, they have continued the events. Now they do them in communities and on college campuses around the country.

“We often see people come to the BIG Dream Gathering to think and get some clarity on their goals and dreams. That’s powerful. Some people know exactly what they’re going to write down, but most need to look at other people’s goals and dreams so they can be inspired to think of their own.”

All sorts of dreams have been launched
Through the years, all sorts of dreams have been posted and a number of success stories have come from these events too.

Mandy Franje attended an early BIG Dream Gathering. As a result, she wound up taking a trip to Africa to help some orphans living there. “I know I would have never taken that life-changing trip, if I hadn’t stopped to think about what some of my dreams truly were and then wrote them down at the BIG Dream Gathering.”

One college student with dreams of becoming a photographer was able to score a Pulitzer-winning mentor. An elementary teacher was able to get the help she needed to send truckloads of school supplies to Africa. Others have started businesses and non-profits while others have decided to go after “fun” goals like family vacations or skydiving.

“It’s been incredible to see what happens when people have a safe environment to think about their big dreams and then get some encouragement to go after them,” says Matthews. “That’s why were so excited to bring the BIG Dream Gathering to Madison.

Since 2006, thousands of people have participated in BIG Dream Gatherings. Those interested in attending can register at the Madison event starting at 6 p.m. on October 4.

Photo: Mitch Matthews