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Thursday, March 5, 2015 12:01 am

One last request

Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s Sharing Wishes Fund makes hospice patients’ dreams come true

Everett Cearlock , pictured with Bonnie Myers, enjoys a Cadilac ride made possible by Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s Sharing Wishes Fund, which grants the final wishes of hospice patients.


When hospice patient Dorothy learned that her time on earth was coming to a close, she had a simple request: she just wanted one last margarita. Thanks to Memorial Medical Center Foundation’s Sharing Wishes Fund, the fund was able to foot the bill for one last “Girls’ Day Out” for Dorothy and her aide. The girls enjoyed a limousine ride, margaritas at Chili’s and a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, a place that Dorothy, a longtime Lincoln enthusiast, had always dreamed of visiting, but had never had the chance to go. To most, a frosty beverage and a day at the museum are enjoyable, but relatively normal events. To a hospice patient, the granting of a simple request such as this can mean the world.  

The hospice program at Memorial Home Services serves more than 900 patients every year across 14 central Illinois counties. It is a home hospice program, which means patients receive compassionate physical, spiritual and emotional care in their current homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The goal of the program is to make patients as comfortable and pain-free as possible towards the end of their lives so that they may enjoy their final days, months and weeks to the fullest. Many times, when a patient is first referred to the hospice program, the knowledge of a limited lifespan is fairly new to the patient. Many conversations between hospice staff, patients and their families and friends are reflective and involve phrases such as “I wish…,” “If only…,” “Just once more…,” etc.

Enter the Sharing Wishes Fund at Memorial Medical Center Foundation. Founded in 2012, the aim of the program is to raise funds to honor the last wishes of hospice patients. Since its inception three years ago, the Sharing Wishes Fund has granted more than 125 wishes. The number of wishes granted annually varies as funds allow. Many factors play into granting these wishes, such as time, finances, the ability to locate certain places, people and performers and travel capabilities of the patient, family and friends. The Sharing Wishes Fund gains the bulk of its funding from the Annual Hospice Gala and is supplemented by other financial donations throughout year.

Money raised via the Hospice Gala and other donations to the Sharing Wishes Fund have enabled a grandmother to throw a party for her grandson’s second birthday, complete with bounce house, party favors and food. Another wish was granted for a gentleman who wanted to take his wife on a date to their favorite restaurant, Culver’s. The Sharing Wishes Fund financed a Culvers’ date for the pair and another special surprise, a twin bed, box spring and mattress, so that the couple could share the same room again, even as the man’s health declined. Other wishes are simple. One man had always wanted to ride in a Cadillac. Thanks to donations made to the Sharing Wishes fund, a Cadillac was arranged and his wish came true.

You can personally help support the Sharing Wishes Fund by attending the Fourth Annual Hospice Gala, the fund’s main fundraiser. This year’s gala will be April 11 at the Crowne Plaza, 3000 South Dirksen Parkway. Attendees will enjoy dinner, music and entertainment plus inspiration from keynote speaker Rebecca Lobo, a 1996 member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gold Basketball Team, who later went on to play a seven-year WNBA career and are join the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Tickets to the gala are $85 per person and available for purchase between March 2 and April 7. Tickets can be purchased online at http://MemorialHospiceGala.com or by calling 788-4700.

Unable to attend the Hospice Gala? You can donate online at http://SharingWishesFund.org. For a more hands-on way to help, consider becoming a hospice volunteer. Volunteers provide patients with much-needed companionship, help with errands, and support family and friends during bereavement. More information about the hospice program can be found at http://memorialhomeservices.com/hospice.

Contact Nan Bulli at nbulli@illinoistimes.com.

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