Living Wish Foundation grants 100 wishes

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Since 2018, the Living Wish Foundation has been making wishes come true. For most adults facing death, their biggest wish is time with loved ones.

Founded by palliative care nurses Nancy Good-Kennedy and Lisa Wright, with palliative care physician Dr. Alyssa Boyd, the organization is devoted to providing medically supervised and supported end of life wishes to patients facing a terminal diagnosis.

The goal is to help these people live with their illnesses by re-framing hope and enhancing the quality of the time they have remaining.

The Living Wish Foundation, based in Collingwood, is not affiliated with The Children’s Wish Foundation where the focus is on providing a distraction from serious illness to aid in recovery and often include things like family vacations to Disney and can cost thousands of dollars.

Through the Living Wish Foundation, Wright says, adults usually just ask for time with their families to create special memories.

“We just did a wish for a woman in Shelburne who knew she was dying and just wanted to see her daughter graduate from Grade 8,” she said. “We worked with the school to create a special early graduation ceremony. We picked the mother up in our retired ambulance and took her to the school gym where all the teachers got together to fulfil the wish.”

The foundation recently celebrated a major milestone, granting their 100th wish. A local woman who had elected for medical assistance in dying (MAID) wanted to plan and attend her own Celebration of Life.

Diane spent her final days surrounded by loved ones who shared laughter, tears, and some good red wine. When the time came for the party, she showed up with her hair freshly done, sporting a crystal tiara.

The Living Wish Foundation website includes stories of all the wishes the group has been involved with.

The very first was a Gulley Fest, a day of food, fun, family and music at a family farm near Stayner.

Wright says wishes typically cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

The only criteria is that the person whose wish is being granted must live within a 75-kilometre radius of Collingwood, they must have received a palliative diagnosis, be in the final year of their life, and the wish must be within the realm of possibility for the foundation.

When the group was formed in 2018, their goal was to grant one wish per month for the first year.

“The plan was to start small and do a good job,” said Wright. “There is no room for error when you’re dealing with someone’s dying wish.”

They wound up doing 15 wishes in their inaugural year and the volume of requests has doubled every year since.

In 2019, The Living Wish Foundation was registered as a national charity. So far, Collingwood is the only branch, but Wright says the dream is that they will one day be part of a national network.

There are two major fundraisers for the foundation each year, the Feast at Frogs Hollow in September, and the Cal Patterson Memorial Hockey Tournament in April. The foundation also receives many donations from the families of people whose wishes were granted.

Anyone wishing to request a wish can fill out a brief questionnaire online at www.livingwishfoundation. org, where a donation button and information about fundraising events is posted.

Photo: Howard was the very first recipient of a Living Wish Foundation wish when he realized his dream of attending Gulley Fest in Stayner with his hospice volunteers. 

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