PLANO -- Years before he stepped in front of the American Idol judges, Ron Bultongez would look at the stage at McCall Plaza in Downtown Plano. It was just a small venue built to host community events along Main Street but it was so much more in Ron’s eyes.

“It was a dream of mine to play on that stage,” he remembered. “There would be days I’d lay on the stage and song write.”

At the time, it was such a lofty goal. The more immediate goal was finding a place to live.

“I was homeless for a while and I would spend a lot of time at Haggard Park across the street. I told myself one day I am going to live at Junction 15,” said Bultongez about the apartment complex across the street from the park on Main Street.

Such dreams may seem relatively small. But for the refugee who came to the United States from the Congo at age 10, he cherished every step.

“I got to live at Junction 15 and I got to perform on this stage. This place is very special to me.”

It is the American Dream so many pursue. And now Ron’s dream is one he is sharing with the entire country as a contestant on American Idol. After initially being denied by the judges during his audition in New York City, Lionel Richie had a change of heart during a commercial break and called Bultongez back to give him the golden ticket and a chance to dream on.

“To go from a third world country, to come to America and being homeless, to being on American idol is unreal.”

Now as a new father, Ron has not forgotten just how small the dream began. While walking through Downtown Plano, passersby know his name and ask him about his American Idol experience. At XO Coffee, the coffee shop where he strummed guitar and performed for customers, they bring him his drink order without him ever asking.

“I would come here and play and a crowd would come out. People would tell me ‘Man, there is something special about you.’”

Regardless of how his American Idol experience turns out, Ron said he wants his music to have an impact on others. A lot of people have a song or a verse that means something to them or strikes a particular chord and his ultimate goal is to have that impact on someone.

“I went through a period of my life when I felt alone. It is my life mission to remind the world you are not alone.”

A mission which began on Main Street Plano in a park across the street from a stage.