First beginning in March 2012, the Sharing Wishes Hospice Gala originally took shape during a brainstorm conducted by Elena Kezelis, executive director of Memorial Medical Center Foundation, and the Memorial Home Services hospice program. This year, Crowne Plaza will proudly open their doors at 6 pm on April 1st as donors and individuals who supported the program and made great contributions in granting last wishes throughout 2016 gather to celebrate the 6th annual event. Alexis Walch, Memorial Home Services Manager, Business & Program Development, of Raymond, IL, has been with Memorial for over a decade and shared with us more about what makes this event truly unique.
Why was this gala started?
Hospice is a support system of care and compassion for patients and families – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – through the end-of-life journey. The focus is placed on quality of life, making the most out of life’s precious moments. It’s about giving families time to focus on what matters most – each other.
Our hospice staff spends a lot of time talking with patients and reflecting on their personal journeys. We often ask what they want to accomplish before they pass. What is important to them? What gives them joy and hope? Patients often have wishes that they hope to fulfill.
This is why the gala was started – to support the Sharing Wishes Fund, which provides the money necessary to make the wishes of hospice patients a reality. The wishes are unique to the individual – celebrating a 75th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends, one last date night as a husband and wife, or taking that long-awaited ride in a hot air balloon.
The Sharing Wishes Fund allows us to pay-it-forward for others. We can support the granting of one person’s wish today, knowing that we too will have a wish someday.
What exactly is the Sharing Wishes Hospice Gala?
The Sharing Wishes Hospice Gala is the primary event supporting the Sharing Wishes Fund. It’s an evening of dinner, drinks, music, and inspiration. It’s a time to thank our donors and individuals who have supported the Sharing Wishes Fund and who have made wishes possible throughout the previous year. The highlight of our evening is the keynote speaker. This year’s speaker is Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob “Waldo” Waldman – a highly experienced and decorated F-16 fighter pilot, author, and businessman.
How many people has the program assisted to date?
The fund has granted more than 250 wishes to hospice patients.
How are individuals selected for this program?
Our social workers complete an application to apply for money from the Sharing Wishes Fund. A committee reviews each application for appropriateness of funds.
If you would like to find out more and discover how you can become involved, please contact Memorial Medical Center Foundation at 217-788-4700, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their site at www.sharingwisheshospicegala.com. Information and updates are also available on the Memorial Medical Foundation page at www.facebook.com/MemorialMedicalFoundation.
Photo credit: Helicopter ride photo - Kara Slating, Memorial Photography, Couple photo - Bobbi Wiseman, Memorial Photography, Balloon photo - Provided by Memorial Medical Center