dream uDreams. We all have them. Sometimes they get put on the back burner or are forgotten because, well, life happens. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story, though. It’s never too late to change your path, to chase your dream, to push yourself in a new direction. Sometimes it’s hard. And scary. Those aren’t reasons to shy away from forging your own destiny. Military spouses often face additional challenges when it comes to building careers, owning businesses and pursuing higher education. On Feb. 10.

American Dream U and the Fort Bragg have put together an event designed to inspire and motivate military spouses to chase their dreams. The Fort Bragg Military Spouse Business & Career Dream Conference runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The conference is not a vendor show or trade conference. It is an interactive, inspirational experience showcasing 19 – 20 (many of them local) military spouses who have started and are running successful businesses, who have successful careers, who pursued or are pursuing educational degrees and certifications. They’ve weathered the deployments, PCS moves and crazy training schedules that every military family faces and still made their dream work. And they are sharing their stories, lessons learned and advice at this conference.

Speakers include Candy Sugarman, founder of Gun Powder Girls; Melissa Swire, CEO of Can Cuddlers; Tammy Tuttle, founder of T. Tuttle Cakes and participant on Food Network’s Cake Wars; Elizabeth Boardman, founder of the Milspo Project; Crystal Wambeke, founder of Crystal Wambeke Accounting; Dianna Potts, consultant; Ashley Thompson, founder of Pressed: A Creative Space; Hana Ehrenrich, ED Sustainable Sandhills; Cameron Cruse, co-founder of R. Riveter and competitor on ABC’s Shark Tank; Robin Matthews of A Bit of Carolina in addition to other presenters.

“It will be a conference that is free-flowing,” said ACS Training Specialist Dee Ann Rader. “We will have two rooms with speakers. So participants can take a look at the schedule, and even if they want to hear more than one speaker at the same time, they will still have access to both of them. After the speakers are done there will be an opportunity for one-on-one questions. Or possibly time in a smaller group setting.”

Rader stressed that this is not about services or products, it is about successful military spouses sharing their stories and experiences on their paths to success. “There are so many military spouses who have talents,” said Rader. “There are times where spouses are not working or can’t find work. This is a way for them to see that they can do something and make their dream or goals work.”

Inspiration is just part of the formula, though. Putting a dream into action takes planning, resources and tools. And there will be plenty of those at the conference, too. Army Community Services is bringing a wealth of information and representatives who can talk to participants about everything from finances to stress management. Fort Bragg’s Ready and Resilient program will be in attendance, too. The Education Center will be there representing local higher education institutions. The N.C. Center for Economic Empowerment and Development will also have representatives on site.

Registration runs through Feb. 7. This event is exclusively for military spouses. Register online at http://bit.ly/ADU_DreamConference, or call (910) 908-4459.

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