Zandex’s Heart’s Desire program is modeled after the “Make a Wish” foundation. Every month at every Zandex facility, residents put special wishes into a hat and a wish is drawn out. Most wishes are easy to fulfill: lunch out with a friend; a Sunday visit to the church they attended for years, a trip to a sporting event. But sometimes the wishes are more difficult, like the gentleman who wanted to go Bungee Jumping! Yes—he went! Some of the more remarkable wishes we’ve fulfilled include:
- A Carribean cruise to swim with the dolphins
- A platinum tour of Elvis’s Graceland in Memphis
- A trip to Las Vegas to see the showgirls
- Flying a son in from across the country for a visit
- A trip to a family reunion in Tennesee
- A beach vacation with family to Ocean Isle, North Carolina
Ray Lautzenheiser’s wish was a simple one. Ray had farmed in the close-knit community of Adamsville since 1947. When he wasn’t tilling his own soil or tending his own crops, he was just as likely to be out helping others. “That’s just the way we are in Adamsville,” says Ray, “If another farmer needs help, we pitch in.” And for the last 20 years, Rays daily habit was to show up at Baker’s store and deli at 11:30 sharp where he would take his traditional seat and catch up on the local happenings as many of the farmers filed through for lunch and a chat. Since entering the Beckett House nearly a year ago, one of the things he missed most was that daily lunch time interacting with friends. Recently we granted Rays Heart’s Desire, which was to have lunch at Baker’s again. When Baker’s was contacted the word seemed to spread like wildfire. On the appointed day, Ray showed up at 11:30 sharp to take his traditional seat–with lunch on the house! No less that 20 of his farmer friends who had heard he was coming filed through the little deli to see Ray, reminisce, and catch up on the town news. The reunions were heartfelt and Ray literally beamed from ear to ear every time the door opened and a new friend walked through. He could hardly believe the response. You see, in Adamsville, 20 people represents about half the town (smile). Pictured below is Ray with four of his farmer friends catching up on the Adamsville buzz.
Donna Long had a heart’s desire wish granted on March 21, 2011. Her wish was to visit her son, Greg, who lives in Zanesville and also has trouble getting out because of health issues. Although Donna can talk him on the phone anytime, she says, “a mother needs to see her son with her own eyes to know he’s ok.” They spent the whole day together, ate lunch at their favorite Chinese restaurant, and went shopping at several area stores. Donna said it was a perfect day!
When the aide woke her up at 5AM, Ada, a lifelong, diehard Elvis fan, didn’t know that her sister had submitted a wish for her that was about to be fulfilled. She simply asked, “why are you getting me up so early.” The aid told her that she had to get ready for an appointment. Ada said, “what appointment do I have that I have to get up at 5AM. The aide then told her she’d have to take an airplane to get to her appointment. Ada said, “OK, really, what appointment do I have at 5AM that I have to take a plane to get to?” The aide simple asked, “where would you like to go more than anywhere in the world.” With a look of 5 year old who just opened their favorite gift on christmas morning, Ada said, “GRACELAND!” And within a few minutes Ada, her sister, a nurse and an aide were all off to the airport where they were whisked away to Memphis, TN in a private plane. In Tennessee there was a private limousine waiting at the airport just 20 minutes from Elvis’ home. Graceland even donated a platinum tour of the facility so that Ada would have the time of her life. They spent the entire day at the beautiful Memphis mansion that was Elvis’ home, listened to music, saw photos and films, and walked through the gardens. By 10PM that night, Ada was back at the facility tucked safely into bed. What a day!
Jason Carpenter’s wish may be the most difficult one we have yet fulfilled. When we we opened the envelope it said, “I’d like to go bungee jumping.” I could see the headlines–Nursing Home throws Man Off Bridge! But after a year of working with the family and doctors, the releases were finally obtained. We didn’t throw Jason off a bridge (smile), but we did take him to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh where he road the Skycoaster. The device lifts you 200 ft into the air before you plummet toward the concrete. We let Jason go as often as he wanted–which turned out to be twice. Everyone had a great time at the park, but for Jason, it was a dream come true–a few hours where he felt like a regular kid again.