McMinnville Woman, 98, has Final Wish Fulfilled: A Horse-drawn Carriage Ride Through Town

By Beth NakamuraOregonian logo

A 98-year-old McMinnville woman in hospice care had her birthday wish fulfilled Sunday: a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown McMinnville surrounded by a handful of caregivers who have long since become friends.

Gladys Hebenstreit, who has been in hospice care since May, rode the horse-drawn carriage accompanied by her hospice nurse, social worker, chaplain, and handful of other women who provide around-the-clock care for Hebenstreit in her McMinnville home.

“I think this was her way of saying thank you to the people who are there for her day in and day out,” said Leslie Crowder, a nurse who provides twice-weekly care for Hebenstreit.

“It’s just her way of wanting a final celebration for her birthday. And coupling that with the people who have grown to love her, and who care for her.”

The ride was a surprise for Hebenstreit, who thought she was only going to a birthday lunch when the carriage pulled up outside her home. It came thanks to the planning of her caregivers and the Dream Foundation, a California-based organization that grants wishes for adults suffering life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Hebenstreit, who has struggled with congestive heart failure, was placed in hospice care last May.

“I was sick a long, long time,” she said. “I came out of the hospital in really bad shape. “About a month or so ago I asked to live for this day. I said, ‘If I ever get better I’m going to hire a horse and ride down the street,'” she said. “That’s where it started.”

Hebenstreit, who was wearing a red crown and beads — gifts from the hospice staff — had little trouble pulling herself up onto the carriage.

“I could do this all day,” she said. (Read more)

Father with Terminal Cancer Gives Daughter Away in Memorable Staged Wedding Ceremony

52fe914f841f7.imageJohn Penn had waited 28 years to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Sunday morning, he did.

His body isn’t what it used to be. In May of 2012, he was hit by a car in Panama City and suffered 23 broken bones. Around Christmas of 2013, he found out he had Acute Myaloid Leukemia (AML), a rare but aggressive type of blood and bone marrow cancer that affects immature blood cell growth.

After three rounds of chemotherapy, doctors told him the cancer had become resistant to the chemicals. Doctors were measuring his life in months. He decided to measure his life in moments.

On Feb. 28 of this year, he visited his daughter,Shayna, in Lithia Springs, Ga., where she has been living. They talked about the prognosis. They shared memories, and regrets.

“We had some alone time and he told me how important it was to him to be able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and that he hated he was going to miss it,” Shayna recalled.

Shayna, 28, decided to have a wedding with everything but the groom. The other part will come some day. Sunday, friends and family gathered at WoodhamFarms near Wicksburg to share the experience.

The entire ceremony lasted less than six minutes.Shayna, in full wedding regalia, walked down a set of stairs inside the building and met her father. He has walked recently with the aide of a cane, but not this time. He guided her to the foot of the aisle and they walked together to the minister.

“Who gives this woman to be married today?” said Eddie Henderson, chaplain for the Dothan Police Department and friend of the family.

“Her mother and I,” Mr. Penn said.

With that, John Penn faced his daughter. She put her hands around him and the two began to dance. Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl” played in the background. (Read more)

Man Battling Cancer Granted Wish For Second Honeymoon

9 & 10 News logo Bryon told Northern Michigan’s News Leader he could have chosen anything, from meeting his favorite celebrity to going on a trip to anywhere he wanted.

Instead, he told the foundation he wanted to take his wife on a second honeymoon.

“It’s one way to get us both in without anybody else bugging us so I thought for a second honeymoon before I go,” Bryon says.

Bryon and his wife, Stephanie, have struggled together against Bryon’s aggressive liver cancer for years.

“About six years ago, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and he was put on a transplant list,” Stephanie says. “In February, they took him off the list because they found two more tumors on him. He’s got two months, according to the doctors.”

Bryon’s hospice social worker reached out to the Dream Foundation.

When they heard of Bryon, they acted fast.

“They contacted the Traverse City Resort and Spa and they granted him three days there with a bunch of extras in it,” Stephanie says.

She says she was shocked.

“He’s a huge Carrie Underwood fan so I thought if you could give him anything in the world, it would have been to meet Carrie Underwood and he was adamant that’s not what he wanted,” Stephanie says.

Bryon says while meeting his favorite celebrity would be amazing, he would choose spending time with his wife over all other options.

“It’s nice to be able to meet a celebrity or something, but there’s so many of them out there,” Bryon says. “I would pick my wife. She’s the best one.”

He says he wouldn’t have spent his one wish on anything else.

“Get her a honeymoon,” Bryon said with a laugh. “It’s what i’m driving at and it’s all I wanted. After that, you can cut me loose.” (Read more)

Dying Vietnam War Veteran from Maryland Gets Longtime Wish to Take Tour of Pearl Harbor

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — When a Vietnam veteran briefly stopped in Hawaii on his way home from war, he vowed to return one day to honor the people who perished during the attack on Pearl Harbor. With just less than two months to live, Joseph Hooker realized his longtime dream on Wednesday.

The Marine Corps veteran, who has heart disease and cancer, traveled from his home in Essex, Maryland, to Honolulu to visit the site of the Japanese attack that pushed the United States into World War II. The Dream Foundation, which grants wishes for those who have life expectancies of a year or less, arranged for the journey.

Hooker’s brother and sister-in-law, who are his caregivers, took turns pushing him in a wheelchair as they went on a private tour of the battleship USS Missouri.

The Hawaii dream stems from a 20-minute stop in the islands in 1971 as Hooker headed home from Vietnam, Hooker said from his Waikiki hotel room Tuesday. He was let off the ship just long enough to make a phone call to his family and eat some ice cream. He promised to come back someday “to honor the men and women that gave their life at Pearl Harbor.”

More than four decades later, Hooker visited the spot where Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri and got a rare peek inside the captain’s cabin. “I’ve never seen a battleship like this before,” he said.

The Dream Foundation’s new program, Dreams for Veterans, made Hooker’s wish possible. In applying, Hooker wrote a letter saying that he longed to visit Pearl Harbor to “learn, touch and understand what happened there.”

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