RANCHO MIRAGE — On her 104th birthday Wednesday, Josephine Turchi received one of her two wishes — to have her family together for a champagne birthday feast.
Surrounded by 104 red roses and party balloons, cameras snapped photos with her and three generations of family members, including a daughter and son, grandchildren and great-grandson, Caleb, almost 2 years old. About 30 friends and family gathered for the afternoon soiree in Rancho Mirage.
“I had no idea I would live so long,” she said, “or have a family so large.”
Kim Bowman-Billings, left, points Friday to a picture of a ship her father, right, Gerald Bowman, served on during the early 1950s at Hardee’s on North College Avenue in Fayetteville during a celebratory lunch honoring Bowman by the Dream Foundation and Hardee’s Stars for Heroes program. Bowman, who is suffering from advanced heart disease, and his daughter, Bowman’s primary caregiver, will be heading to Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Thursday to visit the USS Laffey. Bowman served on the Laffey while deployed with the Navy during the Korean War.
SAN FRANCISCO — Two hours before he and his teammates would tangle with the formidable Green Bay Packers, linebacker Patrick Willis took a couple minutes to chat with a young Richmond man who also knows something about fighting the good fight.
“You ready to watch some football?” Willis asked 22-year-old Felix Vargas, who has been battling cancer since he was 17.
“Yes,” replied Vargas, who watched pregame warm-ups from a wheelchair along the sideline.
“All right,” Willis said. “Let’s get a picture.”
Vargas, a lifelong 49ers fan, attended Saturday night’s playoff game courtesy of the 49ers and the Santa Barbara-based Dream Foundation, which grants wishes to adults facing life-threatening illnesses. Diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, as a teenager, Vargas also was diagnosed with lung cancer last summer. Recently he has been undergoing treatment every Monday in three-week cycles.
Dream Foundation candidate Felix Vargas visits 49ers
In keeping with head coach Jim Harbaugh’s tradition of finding inspirational people to visit his team, the 49ers entertained cancer patient Felix Vargas on Thursday at the team facility.
The life-long 49ers fan, Richmond resident Vargas, 22, contracted a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma five years ago, and recently received a diagnosis of lung cancer. Vargas applied to the Dream Foundation, an organization that attempts to grant wishes to adults and their families suffering from life-threatening illness.
Vargas paid a visit to his favorite team Thursday and had his Vernon Davis jersey signed by Davis, Frank Gore, Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis. He also lunched with Harbaugh and broke the team down in a huddle after practice.
Foundation makes dream for ocean vacation come true