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Wishes Granted at the End of Life

Image from Twilight Wish Foundation via Facebook

Meet the nonprofit making the world a nicer place to age, one wish at a time.

Tell the truth – have you ever shed a tear upon hearing how Make-a-Wish Foundation granted a sick child's wish? Perhaps it was with a long-awaited trip to Disneyland, or a special day with their personal hero. If you're touched by the mission of Make-a-Wish, we think you'll appreciate Twilight Wish Foundation. Whereas Make-a-Wish grants wishes to sick kids, Twilight Wish makes dreams come true for elders nearing the end of life.

Making the World a Nicer Place to Age

For hospice patients and other seniors, the Twilight Wish Foundation is here to help. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit's vision is "to make the world a nicer place to age, one wish at a time." 

The wishes granted by Twilight Wish come in all shapes and sizes. Some are for very basic needs that can be hard to afford on a fixed income – wheelchairs, hearing aids, lift chairs. Some give seniors a chance to reconnect with loved ones and favorite memories – traveling to a reunion, visiting a hometown, getting to perform a beloved job one more time. Others are for one-of-a-kind experiences – whatever the wisher has always wanted to do, Twilight Wish will try to grant it, from riding in a fighter jet to meeting a favorite celebrity.

We talked to Mary Farrell, Twilight Wish's Director of Community Relations, about some of the remarkable ways the group has made the world a nicer place for seniors in hospice or very near the end of their lives. Here are a few of her favorite wishes.

A Sisterly Reunion

At 100 years old, Jean was no longer able to travel from Indiana to Texas to see her "baby" sister, 93-year-old Mary. The sisters used to visit each other often, but age and distance made this ever harder and they hadn't seen each other in five years. The Indiana chapter of the Twilight Wish Foundation was able to bring them together again, flying Jean and her daughters to Texas for hugs and catching up – as well as a limousine ride and a red-carpet walk.

Farrell called this wish "amazing," and it's a testament to the power of family that seeing her sister was the thing Jean wanted most in the world.

Meeting Ronald McDonald

Angela was a hospice patient, and her cancer was stealing her appetite and making it difficult for her to eat. But there was one meal Angela still loved – Sausage McMuffins. When nothing else would whet her appetite, the breakfast sandwich would do the trick. When her family discovered this, they told Twilight Wish about it immediately.

Angela died not long after, at the end of May, but Twilight Wish was able to brighten some of her final days. Farrell remembered the story: "They contacted us and asked if maybe Ronald McDonald could pay her a surprise visit. The same day we got the wish, our direction of wish management, Michelle, contacted McDonald's corporate. Immediately, a family that owns a group of restaurants in Ohio contacted Michelle and it was done by Friday. So Ronald McDonald visited her, he helped bring her breakfast. It was a really great wish – and she was thrilled."

A Flag for Gus

When we asked Farrell about her favorite wishes, Gus immediately came to mind. He was under hospice care when a severe summer storm blew down the flagpole in his front yard, destroying his flags. Gus' flags had special significance to him – one was an American flag and the other a POW flag, representing his service during World War II, when he was a prisoner in Nazi Germany.

Twilight Wish was able to replace Gus' flagpole as well as his flags. Farrell remembered the day the flags were raised: "Some of the great pictures we have from that are him saluting the flag as it's being raised and then him raising the flag." Gus was able to display the patriotism that meant so much to him before his death, just a few months later.

Find More Wishes or Request a Wish

Twilight Wish has granted far more wishes than we can recount here – but there are always more that they hope to fulfill. On their website, you can read about many more past wishes that have been granted, or you can see what wishes are currently awaiting fulfillment. Wishes are granted thanks to donations from individuals, and you can choose to help with a specific wish or donate to a general fund that will also help grant the wishes of seniors.

If you are a senior in need, or know one, you can request a wish via their website, too. More information and a request form are available here.

We asked Farrell why Twilight Wish is so important, and the answer was that it's all about the positive impact it has on the lives of the seniors they help. "It's very important that we honor our older generation," she said. "Sometimes it makes a big difference to them – they feel respected and acknowledged." In follow-up communications with wish recipients, the feedback they receive is 100% positive – every single person who reports back after having a wish granted says it made their life better.