(Photo: The Dream Foundation)
Dream Foundation was founded in 1994 with a mission to serve terminally ill adults and their families by providing end-of-life dreams that offer inspiration, comfort, and closure. In September 2015, the organization introduced Dreams for Veterans - a program for terminally ill veterans.
"For 21 years we've had the privilege of fulfilling over 25,000 final dreams for terminally ill individuals, including veterans of all ages," said Kisa Heyer, Dream Foundation's CEO. "Given the number of dream requests we've received from the military community has jumped exponentially in recent years, we felt compelled last year to create Dreams for Veterans, a program designed to address the specific needs of our nation's heroes and their families. Our team is working to double the number of terminally ill veterans we serve in the next three years."
Dream Foundation has fulfilled 829 dreams specifically for veterans since it was founded in 1994, and since the launch of their Dreams for Veterans program they have fulfilled 111 dreams for veterans. Their motto is: "If you served, you can dream."
Veteran Joe Hooker who served in Vietnam passed away last summer, but not before he was able to fulfill a promise he had made 40 years ago. On his way back from the war, he made a stop in Honolulu, Hawaii. That visit inspired a lifelong desire to go back to Hawaii "to honor the men and women that gave their life at Pearl Harbor," as he put it. In his application to Dream Foundation he wrote that he wanted to "learn, touch and understand what happened there."
The foundation approved this application and sent him along with his brother and sister-in-law on a VIP tour of Pearl Harbor. Although he was suffering from cancer and heart disease, he was able to pay his respects to his fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
"I can go home now and rest in peace," Hooker said in an interview with Salon.com. He passed away two months later.
Carl Johnson and Lucinda "Cindy" Niggel have also had their final dreams fulfilled by Dream Foundation.
Floreville, Texas resident Carl Johnson, 92, is World War II Army veteran who landed on the sands of Normandy on D-Day. Johnson earned two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. He now has lung disease and has been told by doctors he only has a couple of months to live. He hadn't seen Ronnie, his disabled son who lives upstate New York, in eight years.
Carl Johnson with his son. (Photo: The Dream Foundation)
"I always said I wanted to give Ronnie a hug before I got laid down beside my wife," Johnson said. His caregiver contacted Dream Foundation, and in February he was able to wrap his arms around his son one last time.
"I spent a whole day with him and on top of that, [I got to see] lot of my wife's relatives - she has a quite a few!" Johnson said. "They say you can't win them all, but when you win them all, it's a miracle."
Lucinda "Cindy" Niggel, 59, is Navy veteran with terminal breast cancer. Aside from trips to the doctor or hospital, Niggel has spent most of her time confined in her home, on constant oxygen. When Lucinda told a friend she wanted to get out of her house and visit someplace tropical, that friend suggested she look into Dream Foundation.
Dream Foundation provided Cindy and a companion with a vacation to Captiva Island, complete with airfare and funds for food and transportation. "They're true to their word, and the application process is not hard," Niggel said. "The trip was amazing. I felt like I was in paradise."
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