Brenda H. always wanted to spend a week on a dude ranch. Thanks to an organization called Wish of a Lifetime, the 71-year-old got that chance.
Wish of a Lifetime
Wish of a Lifetime is a nonprofit organization that makes Wishes come true for senior citizens across the country. The organization, founded by former two-time U.S. Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom, asks seniors what was that one thing they always wanted to do or see, but for different reasons, were not able to make happen earlier in life. Wish of a Lifetime grants these Wishes, and pays for the costs involved.
The nonprofit got its start in 2008 and has now granted wishes in 49 out of 50 states. Many of their previously granted Wishes entail some sort of adventure. Wish of a Lifetime took 73-year-old Lucy G. skydiving, 64 years after she first saw someone do it and promised that one day she would jump out of a plane. They also made it possible for 75-year-old Dorothy F. to enjoy a meal in the dining car of a train, which she could not do when she was younger because of segregation. Lona C., who lives in Ohio, once visited the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and always hoped she would return to the place where she felt so connected spiritually. At age 105, Wish of a Lifetime returned her to the majestic place on a beautiful summer day, which also happened to be her birthday.
However, not all the wishes have to involve skydiving or visiting an incredible location. Wish of a Lifetime says more than 21 percent of the wishes it grants focus on reconnecting family and friends. For example, just after her 100th birthday, Wish of a Lifetime granted Eleanor S.’s wish to meet her triplet great grandchildren. Instead of only seeing them via Skype, she traveled more than 2,000 miles to meet the three little girls for the first time.
That brings us back to Brenda H’s wish. She wears cowboy boots on a daily basis and has always loved western movies and television shows. It was her life-long dream to go to a ranch and live the country lifestyle – riding horses, camping under the stars, sitting around a bonfire, and country-western dancing. Brenda H. spent much of her life volunteering in one way or another. She worked in a crisis-control center, taught adults how to read and write in her church, and she still reads to people living with dementia in the memory care area of the resident home where she now lives. She has early-onset Parkinson’s disease and wanted to make sure she visited a ranch while she still could.
To make this happen, Wish of a Lifetime flew Brenda H. from her hometown of Chapel Hill, N.C. to the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Ariz. in early September. For some extra help during the trip, Homewatch CareGivers of the Triangle sent a caregiver with Brenda H. to provide the 71-year-old with senior care, making sure she relished in her ranch experience safely.
“We are so thrilled to be part of this special experience. To know that we can truly help make things less stressful and worrisome for Brenda as she enjoys this opportunity of a lifetime,” said Leslie Mazzola, branch manager of Homewatch CareGivers of the Triangle.
Taking the trip together created a strong bond between Brenda and her caregiver. Because the caregiver helped Brenda relax as they became fast friends, she says she had the time of her life.
To qualify for a Wish, a person must be at least 65 years old, a citizen of the U.S. or Canada, and unable to fulfill the wish on their own, yet still physically and psychologically able to experience the Wish. They must also not have a criminal history and need to get approval to complete their Wish from a doctor, if necessary.
Wish of a Lifetime also has a list of questions you can ask your loved one to help uncover their wishes. Here is a sample:
- What were your hobbies, passions, and interests when you were younger? Do you still pursue any of those today?
- What were some of the things your family did for fun? Were there any favorite activities that you remember doing with your brothers and sisters? Why were they your favorite?
- If you could do anything for one day, what would it be?
- What is one thing that you always wanted to try, but never got around to? What was standing in your way?
- Tell me something about you that would surprise people. Do you have any hidden talents?
- Tell me about something you’ve accomplished in life that you are particularly proud of and would like others to know about.
For more information about Wish of a Lifetime, visit www.seniorwish.org.