Despite a disability that affects his mobility and speech, 16-year-old Mark has had a lifelong determination to communicate, especially through music. Since an early age, this young man has "poured himself a cup of ambition" and composed numerous musical pieces using special technology like his DynaVox. Although Mark loves music of almost every kind, there's one musician that stands out among the rest. Whether through song lyrics, movies or TV appearances, Dolly Parton touches Mark's heart on a monumental level.
With the help of Make-A-Wish®, Mark and his family made their way on the country roads leading to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, to meet his Smoky Mountain inspiration. Mark could barely contain his excitement for his long-anticipated meeting with Dolly. As they marched down Dollywood Lane, they approached the Backstage Restaurant, where Mark would meet his favorite singer. With an ear-to-ear grin of excitement, Mark and Dolly met eyes. There they sat, at the restaurant, conversing about Mark's love for music. He showed her a DVD of his musical compositions, and Dolly also learned a bit about Mark's communication device. Dolly autographed CDs, his road trip trivia booklet and a picture. To his surprise, when Mark's dad told Dolly that Mark would be celebrating his 16th birthday the next day, Dolly began singing, "Happy Birthday." That evening, Mark attended a performance starring the 9 to 5 songbird.
Meeting Dolly Parton, Mark experienced a dream that can never be taken away, along with a birthday gift that could never be matched. When he and his family left for home, they took with them more than just autographs, but evidence that dreams really do come true.