Updated Jul 3, 2012 - 3:07 pm
Valley's elderly getting help with their bucket lists
PHOENIX -- A group similar to Make A Wish, an organization that fulfills the wishes of ill children, is doing the same thing for the elderly in Arizona.
The Bucket List Foundation was started last October by Kimberly Iverson, a Valley hospice nurse who wanted to do more for the elderly.
"There's not a whole lot out there for them, in the way of something to look forward to and hope," she said.
That's why Iverson began the foundation. Those she helps have to meet several criteria.
"They have to be over 50 years old, they have to be an Arizona resident ... I'm not going outside of Arizona, I want it to be community-based," she said. "They have to have a terminal diagnosis, and their wish has to be something that they can't do on their own."
Such is the case of Will England, 82, who wanted to fly an F-16 fighter jet. He couldn't because of his health, so the foundation helped him do the next best thing.
"We were able to get him into a simulator and fly like an F-16," said Iverson. "It literally felt like that. Then we got to go onto the tarmac and watch F-16s take off on the runway. It was an amazing experience for both him and the entire organization."
There was Charles Oberdick, 59, who was diagnosed with end-stage liver cancer. His wish was to fly with his dog Sedona to Columbus, Ohio where he could be in hospice care near his mother and extended family.
Three days after Oberdick was placed into an in-patient hospice unit there, Sedona passed away. Charles followed five days later, on April 23. His mother wrote Bucket List that the family enjoyed a barbeque before Oberdick passed away and that she was grateful to the organization for making it possible to be with her son in his final days.
Then there was a couple that Bucket List's website identifies only as Carl and Jean.
Carl was afraid that their 66th wedding anniversary would be their last, and he wanted to treat his dying wife to a romantic dinner. Bucket List was able to arrange the meal.
Fleming's steakhouse not only donated the meal, but came and cooked and served the prime-rib dinner right at the assisted living center where Jean lived. AJ's Fine Foods donated wine. The entire meal would have cost $700.
"I'm motivated," Iverson said. "This is what I've wanted to do for so long. Being a hospice nurse is unbelievable. I love what I do, but at the end of the day, I feel like I need to be doing more."
The Bucket List Foundation keeps Iverson on the go. When interviewed, she had just landed in New York where she was helping a 74-year-old woman return home from Arizona.
Anyone who would like to donate money or time, or read more of the stories of the people the foundation is helping, can go to bucketlistfoundation.org. The foundation can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (480) 779-0706.
Bob McClay, Reporter