The 5 Most Memorable ‘Sharing Wishes’ Wishes – So Far

Balloon-Ride-WishSince its establishment in 2012, the Sharing Wishes Fund has made a significant impact in the lives of many hospice patients and families in central Illinois.

Whether it is a special family-and-friends gathering or a visit from a distant loved one, the wishes Sharing Wishes that help  providing a meaningful touch to the hospice experience for those who benefit. As we near the granting of the 125th wish, we look back on some of the most memorable wishes so far.

Carol’s final wish takes her soaring ‘like an eagle’

On a warm summer evening, with a sky as blue and clear as it comes, Carol Cray set off in a hot-air balloon to fulfill a longtime dream.

“I’ve always wanted to glide and soar like an eagle,” she said as she watched the colorful balloon inflate on its takeoff spot — an empty plat of grass near the Wal-Mart in Lincoln.

A doting grandmother to three girls ages 6 to 18, Carol spent much of 2012 pursuing and fulfilling dreams and wishes she had for her life. After more than two years battling various cancers, her doctor placed her in the care of Memorial Home Services Hospice, where a team of nurses, social workers and aides worked together to ensure her comfort during her final days.

Carol’s daughter, Angie Kruse, made it her duty to help fulfill her mother’s final wishes and had made all but one come true: a hot-air balloon ride, which Carol and her husband, Pat, had talked about for years.

As Carol and granddaughter Natalie soared away toward the countryside, Carol flapped her wings like the eagle she wanted to be. Angie, who promised her mother she wouldn’t cry in front of her, broke down in tears as she watched her daughter and mother float higher and higher.

Two months after her balloon ride, Carol passed away at her home.

“We are eternally grateful for this,” Pat said. “She had a great time and was so glad she could do it. We are beyond grateful.”

Sharing Wishes grants Dorothy’s wish for a “girls’ day out”

Dorothy had mentioned to several Hospice staff members that she wanted to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. When Kelsi Dobson, medical social worker, visited with her, Dorothy made a minor addition to her already humble request: She wanted a steak and a margarita.

Dorothy spent the days leading up to her “girls’ day out” marking off dates on the calendar until that special day arrived. On a summer day in 2013, Angie Clifton, hospice home health aide, arrived early to curl Dorothy’s hair, do her makeup and help dress her in new clothes, bought especially for this occasion.

Little did Dorothy know she’d be riding in style.

A limousine pulled up to whisk away the guest of honor, along with Clifton and June Asbury, a dietary staff member at Oak Terrace—two friends who have become like “family” to her. Not only would this be Dorothy’s first time in a limo, but it was also the first time she would be leaving Oak Terrace in five years.

The first stop was Chili’s, where Dorothy dined on her long-awaited steak and margarita. After lunch, the trio went to the museum.

“It was a terrific day,” she said. “The nicest thing I have ever been able to do.”

Sharon gets her Christmas dress

In her 65 years, Sharon Mills of Hillsboro never had a Christmas dress. In 2012, she confided to social worker Laurie Dobrinich and Hospice nurse Tom Culberson, RN, that all she wanted that holiday season was to look and feel beautiful.

Dobrinich went shopping along with Memorial Home Services marketing manager Alexis Walch. The two picked out a skirt, deep red top and some jewelry, including a ring. Sharon was always complimentary of Dobrinich’s rings, so she wanted Sharon to have her own.

A few days before Christmas, Hospice home health aide Heather Davenport went to Sharon’s home early to help her shower and put on makeup. Then, Dobrinich and Culberson arrived to present Sharon with her new outfit and help get her dolled up.

She loved it.

“Throughout the visit, Sharon kept asking, ‘Do I look pretty? This is the first Christmas dress I’ve ever had,’” Dobrinich said.

Sharing Wishes brings the spa to Diane

Wishes can be large in scale or elaborate in approach. But for Diane Huffines, a 72-year-old hospice patient, her wish was simple: to relax—even if just for an hour.

A simple visit to the spa would fulfill this wish in many cases. But for Diane, finding transportation there, coupled with the energy necessary to make the short trip, could prove difficult. Hospice staff knew that this one simple wish could provide additional comfort in her final days. So they contacted the Memorial Medical Center Foundation for assistance.

In fall 2012, the Foundation sent Danielle Enrietta, LMT, NCTMB, a local massage therapist, to visit Diane at the nursing home. She would bring Diane’s wish—to her!

Enrietta visited Diane not once, but twice. After her first massage proved so beneficial, Sharing Wishes provided a second massage. It was just what Diane needed.

“She seemed grateful to relax and not think about her illness,” Enrietta said.

Diane later expressed her gratitude in a note of thanks to the Foundation.

“She (Enrietta) let her capable hands do her talking. I was certain she was sent to escort me to heaven. Then when the night came for my second massage, I was convinced the doors of heaven would open to greet me.”

This wish also made a difference for Enrietta.

“The experience was also rewarding to me because I felt that I was able to give her some enjoyment at such a difficult time in her life,” she said. “I have never felt more useful.”

Walt gets his trip

Walt McCarty didn’t have a big wish on his bucket list before he died. He only wanted to make one last trip to St. Louis.

Walt had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a common lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. With limited finances and time, the 79-year-old Springfield man knew that the prospect for a final overnight trip wasn’t good.

Walt was the very first recipient of the Sharing Wishes Fund. In April 2012, he and his daughter and her boyfriend made the overnight trip to the Ameristar Casino Resort in St. Charles, Mo.

The Sharing Wishes Fund provided Walt with a scooter and a portable oxygen tank, a gas card and a VISA card for food purchases. He was able to keep the scooter to use at home. No money from the fund was provided for Walt to use in the casino, and the family took care of the hotel bill.

How did Walt enjoy his trip?

“I won one-thousand, three-hundred thirty dollars and ninety-six cents,” he beamed.

His daughter also found the trip rewarding.

“It created memories for me,” she said.

For more information on the Sharing Wishes Fund, visit the Foundation’s website, The fourth annual Hospice Gala, which raises money to support the fund, will take place Saturday evening, April 11, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.