In The Media

Automotive-technology students at Corona del Sol High School brought a measure of kindness—and some desperately needed convenience—to a terminally ill woman whose final days were becoming an even larger battle because she lacked a running vehicle to make doctors’ visits or run even short errands.

Tapping into the students’ auto-repair skills, Hospice of Arizona and Dream Foundation collaborated with Corona auto-technology teacher Larry Huff to undertake repairs to patient Vickie Hull’s van, which was returned to her on May 22 in full running order, including its transmission and the previously inoperable AC unit.

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A uniquely local program that delivers bouquets and other treats to patients in need drew the strong support of guests attending the Dream Foundation’s Second Annual Flower Empower Luncheon held earlier this month at the Montecito home of Robin and Roger Himovitz.

More than 150 guests gathered at a benefit for this impactful volunteer-driven program honoring the 2011-2012 Flower Empower program sponsors: Ivana and Andrew Firestone, Angie Redding, and Annette and Harold Simmons.

Guests strolled along a brick walkway toward the ivy-covered front entrance of the historic George Washington Smith estate and were welcomed with bright smiles at a host table adorned with a tall, beautiful white orchid.

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Most years, Larry Huff teaches students in his high-school auto-mechanic class about engines, alternators and transmissions.

This spring, Huff said his Corona High School students got a “lesson in humanity.”

A couple of months ago, Huff’s phone rang. It was a call that he said has changed his students and his outlook on life.

The Dream Foundation, which grants wishes for people facing life-threatening illnesses, got wind of Huff’s high-school auto class and thought, if the Tempe teacher was willing, his class might be the key to making an Apache Junction woman’s dream come true.

Huff said his first thought — before the foundation explained 62-year-old Vickie Hull’s dream — was: What could a retired military man turned high-school auto teacher possess that would help grant a stranger’s wish?

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With the hood propped up again on Vickie Hull’s 1996 champagne-colored Dodge Caravan, Corona del Sol High School Automotive Technology teacher Larry Huff shook his head. It seemed Huff like that’s becoming a normal position for the vehicle to be in.

But hopefully by sometime next week, Hull’s van — now 178,000 miles strong — will be back on the road after Huff and some of the students in his third period class put their auto repair skills to the test to end nearly two months of waiting for Hull, who suffers from a chronic lung disorder.

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HAINES CITY – Randy Mearkley is taking off with his partner Cathy Schwartz this weekend for a trip to the Florida Keys, thanks to the California-based Dream Foundation.

Mearkley has terminal cancer and chose the Keys when he was nominated by a radiation therapist at the Central Florida Cancer Treatment Center in Haines City.

Julie Engroff, a sales person for Genentech, a biotech pharmaceutical company that sells cancer treatment drugs, presented the gift at a little party given for Mearkley Friday.

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