Adult Make-A-Wish Style Programs Bring Joy and Connection
Foundations grant adult wishes to go skydiving, meet celebrities and retreat from serious illness
When Belmi Tepeque was diagnosed with stage-four gastric cancer, she was aware of foundations that grant wishes to children — but not adults. At just 22 years old, the Santa Barbara resident had already faced several challenges in life. She hadn’t planned to become pregnant during her senior year of high school, which had forced her to set aside plans for a higher education. She’d wrestled with postpartum depression that caused her to feel distant from her 4-year-old daughter, Genesis, as a baby. And as cancer robbed her of her health while draining the family’s time and finances, she struggled with the fact that she couldn’t always be fully present for her husband, daughter, and 8-month-old son Isaiah. Tepeque wondered how to make that up to them — especially spunky, fun-loving Genesis, who enjoyed nothing more than being in the water. Then, her social worker encouraged her to apply for a trip to Hawaii with the Dream Foundation.
The Dream Foundation is one of several U.S. organizations that grant wishes or provide retreats to adults who are terminally ill, elderly, bereaved, or navigating a serious disease. Some serve adults with terminal illnesses nationwide. Others focus on a subset of the population — such as seniors, or mothers with young children. Still others provide retreats and outdoor experiences to individuals managing cancer or families who’ve lost a loved one.