View the original article at: http://www.countryweekly.com/news/pick-winner-danielle-pecks-impossible-dreams-contest
UPDATE: Read about the winning story! 
Danielle Peck was inspired to pursue her dream of singing country music by the strength of family and friends who had conquered their own struggles. And with her new song and video, “Impossible Dreams,” she’s hoping to not only inspire others to dream, but to share their stories of overcoming obstacles—large and small.
After combing through all of the entries for the "Impossible Dreams" contest, Danielle has narrowed the submissions down to the Top 10 stories that moved her most.
Now it’s up to you! It’s your turn to vote.
The story with the most votes will win a grand prize which consists of $500 and their verified story published in an issue of Country Weekly.
Second place winner receives two tickets to any Danielle Peck show in 2013, as well as autographed merchandise.
The other eight finalists will receive autographed Danielle Peck swag.
On March 19th 2010, the phone rang. They said your 23 year old daughter was found dead of a heroin drug overdose. On my way to see her, I asked myself how I'd ever learn to live again without my baby girl. This couldn't be right.
When I got there to where they found her, I knew it was and deep down, I think I knew she was going down that path. As a parent, you deny, then it was just too late. I never had a chance to save my baby.
Since then, I go to Heroin Rally's and we pass out the poem I wrote and read at her funeral. It has touched and saved many lives. It was publised in the poetry book “Symbols”. They call me “Momma Byrd” and know I will always be here for these kids who have no one else to talk to.
My dream is to have someone 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years from now, come up to me and say “Momma Byrd, you saved my life”. That is my dream!
Recently during the fall of 2012 I was the victim of a violent crime. Just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am still trying to process everything that happened that day, but I must let it be known that I have begun to loathe the word victim.
The definition of the word victim is : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions.... I don’t feel that this adequately describes me or even what happened that horrible day. I prefer the word survivor.
I was able to fight back against that almost fatal attack and live to tell the story. I still have a lot of life to experience, and now take it day by day. It adds new meaning to the phrase “live each day as if it was your last”.
The word victim makes me seem weak and unable to protect myself, like a mouse hiding in the corner which is not the case. The perpetrator of that crime was twice my size, but when faced with death, you find strength that you never knew existed. So I will continue my journey on this earth as a survivor and not as a victim. So my dream is to live each day as if it were my last.
After two years of infertility with no results—only upsets—I decided my journey to once again be a mother was slim to none. I ended up conceiving years later only for them both to be ectopic.
I did not understand why this kept happening to me. Why me? I love kids. I work with kids... I change kids’ lives. Why would God now want me to be a mother?
I woke in a hospital room with my doctor by my side, waiting to hear my fate. As he looked down at me with sadness and informed me that my chances to ever carry a child were gone. They had to take my second tube. I bowed my head down and thanked God for survivng. When asked if I was ok I had no choice but to be. God had another plan for me.
As the sound of lulabys filled the halls everytime a baby was born. I knew these mothers were blessed with miracles and I one day will be too. This is where I turned my journey to adoption. I did my research and realized that the United States was in need of homes for bi-racial and african american children. This was it. This was God's plan for me.
Within 1 week post home study I got a call. A wonderful young woman who wanted better for her child. A woman in fear that her bi-racial baby will not be placed. We all became one family together. I even helped deliver my gift from God. I was given an Angel and he was given the gift of life. Aydrasen Mikael grew under his birth mom’s heart and into mine. Adoption is beautiful.
Growing up I was always multiple grade levels ahead in math and multiple levels behind in most other subjects. The reason this was never picked up is because standardized tests are in math and reading, so my math skills would always get me by quite easily. This was until the 5th grade when everything got progressively harder. I was diagnosed with ADD (at a time when it wasn’t a diagnosis for every single child under the sun) and a severe reading disability (I was reading on a 1st grade level in 5th grade).
I struggled through school but made in, barely. Then I continued on to, at the time, one of the top private high schools in Brooklyn (dual curriculum) because this is where my friends went and was in constant trouble of failing out. The principal would constantly sit down with me and my parents and tell me to go to another school; that I will fail in this school and cannot make it through. My response to him was always, “I will succeed and go on to a position where I could encourage children to succeed and not tell them they would fail” as he was doing with me.
I went on to graduate high school from that school and continued on to flourish in college, but didn’t stop there. I received a dual masters in general education and special education earlier this year and I am currently teaching children with autism and helping them succeed. I am giving them the support that, as it turns out, I never needed and never received from my teachers but would have welcomed with opened arms.
Ever since I was 7 years old I’ve had the dream of moving to the USA. I wanted to live in a country where I could become anything I wanted as long as I’d work hard. I saved up all my money and paid to go to school as an exchange student when I finally turned 17. It was an awesome year! Unfortunately I didn’t have the money to stay, so I had to go back to Holland, I worked 3 hours (80-90 hr. weeks) and on minimum wage made enough to put myself through 2 college years.
I started running to get a small scholarship in cross country. In the states I didn¹t get financial aid, or any government money. I worked many jobs just so I could eat, even though many kids were spending their financial aid money on freaking rims for on their cars!! I trained 3 times per day with the team to keep my scholarship, and worked 2 jobs on the side. I got sick about once a month, because my body just couldn't handle it anymore. I also played music on the side, my biggest passion of all. I made little money, but it was the only thing that made me feel at home. For 3 years it was a struggle, I spend my holiday breaks eating nothing but pop tarts one time. Not because I couldn't go to any friend¹s house and get some real food, but my pride was too big to ask for anyone's help. Over the years I've spend a lot of money paying for visas, having to read pages and pages of government rules and regulations, because I couldn't afford a lawyer to help me. This year I finally received my "artist visa" and can now tour around and do what I love. I met a wonderful man, who I'm very much in love with and has been my biggest support. This year has finally been a year of a little more rest. I've been able to play many shows and get better at what I do best. I love this country, and am still fighting hard to get to stay here. It's true.. nothing worth having comes easy. And I¹m not finished yet.. I just recorded my first album and am ready to break through in the music business, it might take longer than I would want, but I WILL get there. As a child my dream was to live in the USA, which I am.. I dreamed to sing for a living.. which I do, and I dreamed to meet the love of my life.. which I did. I¹m a dreamer, but also a doer, and that will always get me to where I want to be.. you can do ANYTHING if you set your mind to it.
I grew up in a neighborhood where dreams seemed unrealistic. The neighborhood was tough. It seemed like many people could not see beyond the street corner. My dream was to go to college and earn a degree. I was told by peers and teachers that my dream was impossible. My high school grades were poor. In the10th grade, my grade point average was a kind D+. I knew I had to turn it around and I did. I ended up with an undergraduate degree. I even made the Dean's list. My dream continues. I wanted a Masters.
At 28.3 weeks along in pregnancy, my wife delivered our little boy Dakota, who is now 6 years old. He nearly died after birth when he developed MRSA infection in lungs. He also was diagnosed with Grade 3 and Grade 4 brain bleed which led him to Cerebral Palsy. We were told he would never sit, stand, crawl or walk. We decided that it was not enough to be told that and started him on a strict regimen of therapy. At 19 months old, he stood to the TV to get close to the video playing, "Living Our Love Song" by Jason Michael Carroll and at 21 months old, he began walking. Only trouble is, he walks on his tip toes. All the way up on his toes. We didnt care if it was right or not, at least he could do it. So here he is at age 6 and is still walking tip toed but at least hes independent and can do just about anything that your typical 6 year old can do.
Not only was he diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy but later on would be diagnosed as Autistic with traits of Aspergers. He also has sensory dysfunction disorder and ADHD but is so nice and kind to others around him that he brings a smile to everyones face and can still be friends with all the "Cool" kids around because he is so likeable. He has inspired others to learn from him because if he can overcome a brain bleed that shouldve left him a vegetable and made sure he can walk, talk, play, sing, love unconditionally and so much more, why can someone who is not nearly as bad off not be able to overcome an obsticle. I know he makes me want to be a better person.
This is a story about my mother who has over come so many obstacles in her life. She had my oldest sister at a young age and struggled to put food on our table. After being strong for so many years she was diagnosed with cancer, never once did she ever give up even though I wanted to give up for her. To watch the pain she has gone through amazes me that she wakes up with a smile on her face everyday. She is in remission finally at the age of 51 she has been dealing with this for over ten years. I want her to enjoy this for her, she always does nice things for everyone else. She never asks for anything in return except for time to spend with her family. I want my mom to have something that she will always remember from one of her favorite musicians.
I am the first one in my family to graduate from college. When I was 18, I wanted to go out of state for school, but my mom didn't want me to. In her effort to prevent me from leaving, she would tell me that I would not make it on my own, that I would fail out of school, and not succeed in life. These were hurtful words but I was determined to prove her wrong. Not only did I graduate from college, but I also went on to receive a Master's degree and I am now a successful counselor. If I would have listened to those hurtful words many years ago, I may not have succeeded, but I choose to listen to my heart and follow my dreams, making what seemed impossible at the time, a reality!
I was only two in 1956. There I sat at the court house in only my underwear. These two people who I did not know who I soon would know.
I was given away by my birth mother at a St. Louis court house. No shirt, no shoes, no pants, but I did have very dirty feet. The judge gave me to these two people who raised me as there own. I still have the 3" x 5" piece of paper that show my birth mom gave me away. I was told that my birth father ran off with the baby sitter and had six more kids. I found out I had siblings when I was sixteen: three sisters, one brother. Never found my brother. His name was Dennis Dickerson.
Well, I am 59 now. Been married thirty years to a very wonderful wife. Two kids, three grandkids. So, thanks to the late Geraldine Lyston, my mom and my dad – AKA Bud Lyston, who is still living at 82 – they raised me right. There is a god and you have to have faith.