When a child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, parents want to make precious memories in the time they have left, often enlisting the help of the Make A Wish Foundation to grant a final wish. In 1993, Thomas Rollerson discovered no such organization existed for terminally ill adults. One year later, the Dream Foundation was created.
For families struggling to make ends meet, granting the final wish of a dying loved one can be difficult, if not impossible. Astronomical hospital bills and care-giver fees can drain a family’s budget very quickly. The Dream Foundation focuses on easing this burden by catering to the specific needs and desires of its dreamers.
Dream Granting – The website refers to this program as the, “heart and soul of the Dream Foundation.” They pose the question, “If you had one year to live. . . what would your dream be?” Then they try to fulfill it. Potential dreamers are encouraged to fill out an application telling a little about their illness and then describe their request. For the Dream Foundation there is no “want” that is too farfetched. In the past, people have asked for a garden in their name, a book of poetry published, a loved one flown in from far away and many would like to meet a favorite celebrity or take one last vacation with their family.
Flower Empower – Based in Santa Monica, this program was started by local volunteers who wanted to brighten the day of critically ill people in their city. Every Saturday morning a group of volunteers meets at a local farmer’s market to assemble bouquets of donated flowers. The arrangements are then delivered to hospitals, hospice facilities and homes. In addition to the flowers, deliveries may also include fresh-baked cookies and chocolate.
Toy Program – For dying parents with young children, the emotional and financial strain on a family can be overwhelming. Volunteers from the Toy Program send parents age-appropriate gifts for their children. The gifts are pre-wrapped and sent directly to the parent to give to the child. This partnership with Ty company and Hasbro is wonderful because it gives children a momentary respite from their parents’ illness and everything it brings with it.
It was an emotional experience to read through the current dreamer requests and past wishes granted. Paul is battling a brain tumor but wanted to see the final installment of Harry Potter with his 16-year-old son. Zoh, a mother of two young children whose breast cancer returned, wanted to spend some quality time with her family. Amie, almost completely paralyzed from the neck down from her battle with ALS, wants to attend a Rick Springfield concert. Sweet, spunky 91-year-old Jeannie told her doctors she wanted to die in her home and then promptly asked the Dream Foundation for a lobster dinner and coconut cream pie. The wishes are different but the sentiment is the same. They each want something they can savor, that their families can savor, to take some sting out of what’s to come.
The Dream Foundation accepts monetary donations, mileage vouchers and other unique ideas individuals have that could help the dreamers.
“I know if we could step away just for a few days we could put some punctuation on this time and move forward as a family, lighter and less wounded. My wish is to be just myself, for my family.” — Zoh – Dream Foundation dreamer
Make your heart happy. Do good.