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Program proves it’s never too late to make a wish come true

You’re never too old to stop wishing.

That’s the thinking behind Wish of a Lifetime Canada, which has partnered with Chartwell Retirement Residences to grant wishes to seniors.

A dozen of the wishes were published in a 2017 calendar, which is available for purchase at the Elmira Chartwell Retirement Residence. Any money raised through selling the calendars goes back to Wish of a Lifetime to grant more wishes.

They’re hoping some of their residents will have their wishes granted and make it in the calendar in the future.

Recreation manager at Chartwell Elmira, Vicky Rau, explains the charity is similar to the children’s Make A Wish Foundation.

“It is never too late. That’s what the amazing thing about this program is, what’s exciting for us is it’s never too late,” Rau said.

Anyone can fill out a form nominating a senior to have their wish granted through the program. Chartwell Elmira has a box set up in their lobby to put completed forms in.

They also are running a similar program on a smaller scale called Moments That Matter. They’ve already granted a couple of those. One of the residnts noticed a fellow resident’s son in law pull up on a motorcycle and mentioned in passing how much she had loved riding on a motorcycle.

Chartwell Elmira general manager, Joan Norris, found out and was determined to make it happen.

A Chartwell Elmira resident enjoyed a motorcycle ride  after general manager Joan Norris heard she had been on her son’s motorcycle when she was younger and loved it.[Submitted]
A Chartwell Elmira resident enjoyed a motorcycle ride after general manager Joan Norris heard she had been on her son’s motorcycle when she was younger and loved it. [Submitted]
lh_chartwellmakeawish_post2“I said ‘I hear that you want to have a ride on Doug’s motorcycle.’ She goes ‘I’d love to. When I was younger my son took me on his motorcycle a few times and I loved it.’ I said well I can arrange for this. ‘Oh I couldn’t possibly do it and I don’t have a helmet or whatever.’ And I said I can get you a helmet and then she kind of stopped and went ‘you know, I can do that. I always told myself I can’t do things, but I can do things.’”

They were gone for an hour and a half and she loved every minute of it.

Another resident, Lester Phillips, used to love going to the Centre In The Square to listen to classic music, but hadn’t gone since his wife died. Chartwell brought in a professional trio to play.

“Another wish was a couple always liked to go to the theatre before they came here and really wanted to go. So we got them tickets and they’re going to see Nunsense,” Rau said.

Those are all part of the Moments That Matter. Wish of a Lifetime wishes that have been granted to residents at other retirement homes include sending veterans back to where they fought in the war to visit, swimming with dolphins and meeting Celine Dion, to name a few.

“It’s just hearing in passing someone might say something like ‘oh I wish I could do this’ or ‘I’d love to do this,’ ‘remember when we used to do that.’ And those are the little things that we encourage everyone, family, staff and that to write up a little form and put it in the box,” Rau said.

They’re planning to submit a wish for one of their residents who has always wanted to take the train all the way across Canada.

“They’ve done some really amazing wishes so far. It’s pretty impressive. And so many of our seniors grew up and lived through a time when a wish was a wish, you knew half of the time it wouldn’t come through because you couldn’t afford it. This makes it possible,” Norris said.

She says many seniors didn’t get to check everything off their bucket lists because things like war, the depression and raising kids got in the way.

Chartwell’s mantra is making people’s lives better, so they try to live up to that every day. This is one way of doing it.

Former NFL player and Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom created Wish of a Lifetime in honour of his grandmother in 2008 and expanded it to Casnada in 2015.

“I’m sure everyone has dreams and wishes regardless of their age… I think some of them think it’s too late to have a wish granted and it really isn’t,” Norris said.

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