Wish Fulfillment Request – A Trip to Disney World
I want to relate how one of our families has dealt with the death of their husband/father and how instrumental Dreams to Memories were in the family’s recovery.
I had heard about the Wendel family from a friend of mine that works at the school their 6 year old son Matt attended. Mike, who had beat cancer two years earlier, was having an occurrence of colon cancer with no option of surgery and given one to two years to live.
I first met with Mike and Tammy while they were living in the parsonage of their church. They had lost their home as he could not work and his wife, Tammy, was taking him to appointments and keeping the family together. I encouraged him to fill out the forms not for himself but for his children. I told him that our goal is to give the family some happy experiences they can remember in the dark days that were surely ahead. He was determined to beat this cancer again and I told him if he did that was absolutely wonderful but to think about the children and fill out the forms.
It took a lot of convincing by his wife and brother but he finally filled out the paperwork and was approved for a Dream… They had decided to go to Hershey Park because hot weather adversely affected Mike, however, he ended up hospitalized for a few weeks when they were supposed to go and the trip was changed to Disney World in October 2010 instead which was Mike’s favorite place.
The whole family went on that trip which included Mike, Tammy, 7 year old Matt and 16 year old daughter, Nicole. They had a wonderful time.
After they got home from Disney Mike’s health started to deteriorate at an alarming rate and in a little over a year he died.
A few months later I ran into Tammy who asked me to relate this sorry to everyone who made their Disney trip possible.
Tammy told me that after Mike died Matt was so angry he did not want her to say his name. Her daughter began college as a freshman three weeks after his death. Everyone was grieving but not in a healthy way.
After Tammy received Mike’s life insurance she paid off all the debts of his illness and there was a small amount left and she decided to use that money to take the three of them back to Disney World.
Tammy said the kids she took to Disney were not the ones she brought home with her. They were different children. They got to Disney World and they started to think about all the good things and the fun they had there with their Dad. They could talk about him and laugh about things they had done together there on vacation. Their whole outlook had changed and they had stopped grieving and begun remembering the good times.
This is why we do what we do.
An update: June 2014 - I spoke to Tammy and she told me they just had come back from Disney World again. She said that they all feel closer to Mike there and that her and Matt had both had mini breakdowns one night but at least the grief is coming out and not being kept inside especially for Matt who is now 10. She still says that she doesn’t know what would have happened without Dreams to Memories. This is a testimony to why we do what we do.