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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 info@bucketlistfoundation.org or by calling (480) 779-0706.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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