Bill Torpy: Greensboro Dreamers aren't just dreaming anymore

Thumbs up: Tom and Kathy Kelly with the Dreamers at Greene County High School in March 2012. In 2000 the couple promised a class of kindergartners they would send them to college if the children graduated from high school. Now many of those same kids are graduating from college. (AJC file / Curtis Compton)

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Thumbs up: Tom and Kathy Kelly with the Dreamers at Greene County High School in March 2012. In 2000 the couple promised a class of kindergartners they would send them to college if the children graduated from high school. Now many of those same kids are graduating from college. (AJC file / Curtis Compton)

Nearly 16 years ago, a retired CEO new to Georgia had heard about the I Have A Dream Foundation and figured something like that might work in Greensboro.

So Tom Kelly made a promise and then had a whole lot to live up to: he told a group of 54 kindergartners (most of them from underprivileged backgrounds) that if they graduated high school, he’d see to it that they got through college.

Now they are starting to walk the stage in cap and gown from various universities. Many would have never done so with out the layers of mentoring and educational aid that Kelly and others brought about.

Sometimes, the kids thought Kelly and Co. were asking too much. And sometimes Kelly wondered what the heck he got into. But then those caps and gowns started showing up . . .

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