Gerald Kostecka is the creator of the Dream Dragon character and is committed to producing a high quality line of books and products, which will teach, empower and entertain children of all ages. Gerald feels that children need a character who they can look up to, learn from and eventually grow to trust. As a father of three children, it was important for him to find a character who would meet the level of quality he demanded for his own children. After searching high and low, he was simply not satisfied with what was available, so Gerald decided to pursue bringing his own character to life. The Dream Dragon was originally created in a short poem written by Gerald when he was only 17 years old. From the original poem, an entire series of stories have been developed. Our main goal is to provide a character who is strong, with a story line that doesn’t need to resort to senseless violence or useless fluff to try to be popular. The Dream Dragon is a character who is interested in entertaining, empowering and educating children, with an emphasis on instilling self-confidence and self-worth.
The Dream Dragon Origin Story
"The doctors told his mother he would be lucky to live to a year or two;
that as he grew, his inverted chest bone would most likely pierce his heart and kill him."
Gerald was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1968, with a condition called Pectus Excavatum, which causes a concave sternum. As a newborn, if you put a finger on the most sunken part of the middle of his chest, you could actually feel his spinal cord. The doctors told his mother he would be lucky to live to a year or two; that as he grew, his inverted chest bone would most likely pierce his heart and kill him. There would be nothing they could do about it. But he defied the odds and grew from infant, to a toddler, to an energetic and active child. However, when he was 16 months old, his baby sister passed away, leading to the divorce of his parents. His biological father was never in his life, so his mother was left to raise he and his older sister. His mother joined the Navy when he was five and they moved to San Diego, CA. Life for an enlisted woman who was divorced with two kids wasn't easy, but they managed, living in Navy housing for the majority of the time Gerald was growing up.
"As a result of his excess energy he was branded a bit of a “problem child”, with comments like “won’t sit still”, “doesn’t pay attention” and “talks excessively” on almost every report card."
He was short and skinny, but had loads of energy, so much so that he was often seen as a disruption in school. Because of his size, he was picked on by bullies, which created a disdain for those who bully others, something which would stick with him for the rest of his life. As a result of his excess energy he was branded a bit of a “problem child”, with comments like “won’t sit still”, “doesn’t pay attention” and “talks excessively” on almost every report card. He was very physical and taught himself how to do gymnastics and became strong and was fast…very fast. In fifth grade he participated in the Presidential Physical Fitness tests and ended up being the fastest kid in his entire school. In sixth grade his teacher, Mrs. Reich, recognized something in him and recommended that he help conduct the weekly Friday assembly. He became a bit more focused as he started public speaking in front of about 750 students, teachers and parents each week and ended up running and being elected the President of Student Council by the entire school. He was very intelligent and returned borderline genius level scores on a school given I.Q. test, but never really stood out academically.
Things took a major turn for the worse for Gerald when his mother remarried when he was 13 years old. There were major problems between he and his stepfather, problems which would have life altering results. His step-father and mother were both in the Navy and, very shortly after the marriage, they were both stationed overseas in Subic Bay, Philippines for two years. After that they returned to the San Diego area and things between Gerald and his stepfather rapidly deteriorated. The next several years were a roller-coaster ride of emotional pain and confusion. Gerald was thrust into a world of high-priced psychiatrist, locked psychiatric hospitals, juvenile detention facilities and out-of-state residential placement. After over a year and a half of being tossed back and forth to different placements, Gerald returned to the home of his mother and step-father. With about 6 months before his 18th birthday, Gerald was prompted to move out and support himself. He moved, got a job, and was trying to finish high school. It was at this time that he also started experimenting with illegal drugs. Circumstances forced Gerald to return to his parent's home about 2 months later. A final altercation with his stepfather made Gerald pack his bags and leave. Gerald was picked up by the police the next day as a run away and was taken to Juvenile Hall. He stayed there for a month and was then accepted into the East County Gatehouse, a group home for displaced youth. His stay would last until the day of his 18th birthday.
"The hard work and emotional support from the Gatehouse staff paid off for Gerald."
Having allowed his life to spiral out of control, Gerald now faced the harsh reality of being an adult in a few months. He decided he wanted to get his high school diploma. He should have been in his senior year, however his records only showed him completing his sophomore year, as some of his transcripts had been lost in his moves during all the moves over the prior several years. Gerald spent each day completing between 5 and 10 assignments per day, per subject, while also having a job with a roofing company. The hard work and emotional support from the Gatehouse staff paid off for Gerald. After completely two and a half years worth of classroom assignments in less than three months, he was presented with a high school diploma on his 18th birthday in a formal ceremony on the front lawn of the Gatehouse. The staff even rented a cap and gown and bought a graduation cake for this single graduate of this Class of 1986. Gerald's mother attended the ceremony, but afterwards, neither thought they would be seeing each other again anytime soon.
Lack of direction and newfound freedom took Gerald into a world of drug use and antisocial behavior. Gerald spent the next few years in this world, until Nicholas, the first of his three children, was born. Gerald started working and stopped using drugs. The relationship with the child's mother deteriorated, but not before she became pregnant with his second child. The relationship with the mother was over before his daughter, Khailey, was even born. His children stayed mostly with their mother and Gerald fell back into some of his bad habits. He was again using drugs and started drinking heavily.
Gerald finally started to act more responsibly by maintaining steady employment and became the primary caregiver for his children. He also started writing again, which had been a way to express his feelings when he was a teenager. He focused attention on a poem he had written for Creative Writing credits while at the Gatehouse. The poem was the birthplace of the Dream Dragon. His creative juices started flowing again and he began writing Dream Dragon stories. A new job had him traveling to Orange County, CA where he met a beautiful young lady named Susan. She would become his wife, mother of his third child and his inspiration to become something great. Gerald relocated to Orange County and married about a year later. His third child, Nathaniel, soon joined them. Gerald decided to get his life on track and made the decision to be fully committed to his family and his dreams.
"After seeing such a massive decline in society as a whole and seeing what is happening
to our youth, Gerald realized that the "right time" for the Dream Dragon, is right now!"
Several opportunities allowed Gerald to grow professionally, including professional training as a public speaker and business seminar presenter. He excelled and considered the pursuit of his dream of becoming a published writer. In 1999, he turned this dream into a reality by forming Dragon Tales Publishing, LLC. Writing under the pen name Nyle Steck, he published his first children's picture book, Dreamtime Friend. Circumstances beyond his control forced him to put his Dream Dragon efforts on hold, but he always believed that someday, when the time was right, the Dream Dragon would once again take flight. Fast forward about 20 years, which brings us to today, and Gerald has twenty years more experience, some of his children now have children of their own and he barely recognizes the place the world has become. After seeing such a massive decline in society as a whole and seeing what is happening to our youth, Gerald realized that the "right time" for the Dream Dragon, is right now! So he redesigned and re-released his original picture book, started writing again, added a brand new group of characters, The Knights of Catcher's Table, to the Dreamland universe, created a few coloring and activity books, made some t-shirt designs, has a couple of prototypes of stuffed plush toys in the works and assembled a team to produce and introduce the Dream Dragon animated series pilot, Adventures In Dreamland: The Sour Case of the Candy Crops.
Gerald now hopes to work with troubled young people as a motivational speaker, although his message of empowerment applies to all children. He has even reached out to some of the staff who originally worked at the Gatehouse to see if organizations they are with currently could use Gerald's experience and expertise to help other kids who are currently in his old situation. Using his personal experiences, he illustrates how anyone can make it if they believe in themselves and really try. Gerald has personally experienced "The System" and understands what these children are going through. His story will inspire. His dynamic public speaking skills will captivate. His straightforward message of empowerment and self-worth will have a powerful, long lasting affect on any audience. His sincere caring will touch the hearts of both children and parents.
"He and Susan are still happily married after 25 years and look forward to the next 25!"
In addition to being the creator of the Dream Dragon and the entire Dreamland universe, Gerald Kostecka is also a published author of two business books and countless health and wellness articles, he has appeared on several talk shows discussing very serious child related topics, he has been a professional public speaker and for over the last decade he has been in the alkaline ionized water industry, becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapist in order to better understand the connection between nutrition, hydration and health. He and Susan are still happily married after 25 years and look forward to the next 25! He is also 25 years sober from illegal drugs, rarely drinks alcohol and stopped smoking cigarettes over 18 years ago. Gerald's step-father passed away a few years ago and, although they never reconciled their relationship, on the urging of his step-father to Gerald's mother, Gerald has reunited with his mother and sister and they are rebuilding a loving and caring relationship, based on mutual respect and a better understanding of one another. Which goes to show that it is never too late to put the past behind you, make amends and work towards rebuilding a healthy relationship.
Now Gerald is determined to make a difference in the lives of kids from all walks of life. He has taken from his own personal experiences and developed a message of empowerment and hope. His goal is simple, but lofty: "Changing the World, One Dream at a Time!"
Gerald is available for motivational speaking engagements, personal appearances or as a guest for radio or television talk shows. His personal experiences give him a unique perspective on the problems facing children today. Gerald offers solid solutions for these problems, instead of just criticism or finger pointing.
Would you like to have Gerald speak at your school or organization? Would you like Gerald as a guest on a talk show? Contact us for information on having Gerald Kostecka come to your location.
"My greatest strength is my passion for helping kids. I do this for every tear needlessly shed; for every laugh which will never be heard; to help others who have felt my pains; to keep others from ever feeling them. I believe I am destined to bring hope to children who need it the most and to inspire a million smiles, and I intend to fulfill that destiny." Gerald L. Kostecka