A Sturgeon Bay Woman is Living her Life and Enjoying a Dream with her Family

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.00.13 AMA Sturgeon Bay woman who has been told she has less than a year to live was presented with a trip to Disney World Friday at the Golden Living Center-Dorchester in Sturgeon Bay.

Jodi (Pierzchalski) Georgenson, 40, has stage 4 metastatic melanoma and last fall she was told she had six to 12 months to live. Georgenson is the director of rehabilitation and a speech therapist for Aegis Therapies, a branch of Golden Living. She and her husband, Steve, have two children, Lola, 4, and Luke, 2. Georgenson was profiled in an October Door County Advocate story about a fundraiser Golden Living was having to help her complete a bucket list and pay for medical costs.

Georgenson has been living life to the fullest since she received the news. She applied to the Dream Foundation – an organization that grants wishes for adults with terminal illnesses who have a year or less to live – after deciding to take her kids to Disney World.

“My dream was to see my children’s faces at Disney in Florida,” she said.

Dream Foundation is covering the cost of up to four family members, flights, lodging, and tickets to Disney World and Sea World. They leave Feb. 15 and will be gone through the 19th.

Georgenson learned a few weeks ago that the Dream Foundation would grant her wish. About a week later the organization also sent a large box of gifts to Lola and Luke. (Read more…)

Accessibility Aids in the Life of Former Hospice Patient

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.50.32 AMGrowth in technology has reached all walks of life, easing the completion of nearly all daily tasks for many Americans. For Michael Leonard, though, recent access to a new computer program has not just aided in daily life, it has enabled a life that might otherwise be impossible. Leonard, 52, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 30 and

Fortunately for Leonard, though, he found himself relying less and less on Owen’s care during the summer months, often using her visits as friendly conversations rather than patient services. With his pain and symptoms so well-managed, Leonard said Owen often asked what she could do to help in any way.

“She was at my house one day,” Leonard said, “and we were just talking and she said something along the lines of ‘I just don’t feel like I’m doing too much for you. If I could do anything for you, what would it be?’ And I just told her, ‘Get me a nice laptop computer.’ I didn’t mean it very seriously. She said say anything so I said anything.”

Owen took the idea and ran with it. Through her work with hospice, Owen knew a grant could be possible for Leonard and his request. Dream Foundation, a national dream-granting organization for adults, seemed like a perfect fit.

“They have separate (applications) for hospice patients that they will expedite the process for,” Owen said. Because Leonard was still under hospice care at the time, he could quickly become a grant candidate.

“I had to write a letter to go along with (the application) so I collaborated with Michael on it and typed most it out for him and let him read it and sign it. Just kind of telling a story of how we felt like the computer would benefit him and improve his ability to socialize and lessen his isolation.”

Fast forward four months and Leonard was granted his wish: a brand new laptop with voice recognition software thanks to the installation of Nuance Communications Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Leonard now enjoys full capability of the computer using a headset to communicate with the computer to run different programs.

“It’s really remarkable,” Leonard said, joking that the program even asks for your specific accent upon installation. He chose the southern accent, of course. (Read more…)


Nurses Grant Patient’s Christmas Wish in Lexington

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 2.00.20 PMLEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Some nurses at UK Hospital are bringing Christmas to a very special patient.

Mickey Mills has been hospitalized since Christmas Eve, 2014. He is waiting on a heart transplant, and his nurses don’t know if he’ll make it home in time for Christmas.

“We have obviously the Christmas tree, and then we have lots of little ornaments everywhere, lots of little nick knacks, Christmas cookies. We have candy canes. We have just about anything and everything you can think of that would make it look like Christmas,” notes Jennifer Jones, an RN in the Cardiovascular ICU. Jones and fellow nurse Joy Coles brought Christmas to a conference room for their patient, Mills.

“Mickey is the quintessential, hard- working American blue collar man,” describes Jones.

Coles calls him, “good ol’ fashioned, down home, Kentucky home good folk.” Last Christmas, Mills entered UK Hospital.

“We noticed that Mr. Mills wasn’t able to get in the holiday spirit,” says Coles. This year, Coles and Jones decided to bring Christmas to Mills. They decorated a conference room for him, and brought in his family, including a grandson he’s never met.

The Dream Foundation helped make Mickey’s Christmas wish come true. They provided all transportation and housing for the Mills family for the weekend. (Read more…)

Disney Dreams Come True for Southlanders

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Married three months ago and both big Disney fans, John and Mary Calabrese learned Tuesday they’ve won a free trip to Disney World and will leave next week to celebrate a delayed honeymoon.

It wasn’t some contest or sweepstakes that made the all-expenses-paid, weeklong trip a reality, but an incurable cancer John suffers from that, doctors say, will in all likelihood in a few months claim the life of the 55-year-old school teacher, collector of antique newspapers, golfer and Abe Lincoln buff.

Diagnosed in August 2014 with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer, the resident of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community has been receiving chemotherapy at Pronger Smith Medical Care for more than a year. That’s where he was surprised with the news about the trip, made possible by Dream Foundation, a dream-granting organization for adults and their families facing terminal illness.

ct-ctlfl-ct-sta-dying-man-honeymoon-st-1109-009-j-20151208Calabrese for several years taught social studies at James Hart School in Homewood, and returned to work as a reading specialist at the school a little more than a week ago, saying that being around the students again has been “almost medicinal.” He was unable to work for more than a year after initially undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy to try to keep the cancer under control.

At 55, resident receives final wish to see Disney World

imagesAt 55, Tommy Nelson fulfilled his final dream — to see the Magic Kingdom. Nelson, who is under the care of Community Hospice at Lanier Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility, has colon cancer that has spread through his body.

Barbara Nicholls, activities director for the Northside facility, said she has a passion for making “last wishes” come true. When she asked Nelson what his would be, he told her he never could afford to go to Disney World and would love to go while still physically able. So Nicholls contacted The Dream Foundation, which made the trip possible.

Nelson was a pool repairman for many years. An accident on the job resulted in the amputation of his right forearm. Despite the accident, he persevered with a cheerful attitude and overcame many obstacles, Nicholls said.

“He is a treasure of ours and a joy to be around,” she said.

At Disney World, Nelson told her he had never had so much fun and would never forget it. He liked the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. He liked “It’s a Small World.” He liked the cartoon character shows, the Christmas acts and the fireworks. He liked to watch others having fun. And he liked the vanilla milk shakes, ice cream cones, double cheeseburgers and chili. He loved the relaxed atmosphere of the Grand Cypress Hotel, the food and ordering room service.

“It was truly magical to see him in that atmosphere,” Nicholls said, adding that he wanted to express his gratitude to the foundation, Lanier Terrace and the hotel and theme park employees who gave him the royal treatment. (Read more…)