Since 2011 I have had the opportunity to travel with Elders to several different parts of the country. I have been fortunate enough to spend time with them doing various things as they live their dreams on a vacation experience of their choice. Even after all of these years, the stories of hope, promise, and self confidence that erupt as a result of these mini vacations continue to inspire me.
The past year was no exception. Below is Emma’s story of restored hope as it was recounted by Roni Scheurer, Regional Quality of Life Director.
After suffering a stroke in 2011, Emma never dreamed she would be able to go on vacation again. When the QOL Team at The Bridge @ Highland began talking about the 2014 Elder Vacation to Walt Disney World, Emma set her eyes on the prize of being able to go and never looked back. She desperately wanted to be selected to attend the vacation of her dreams but knew she would need to work hard to make this dream come true. Emma shared with me that she has always had a strong will power and faith in herself that she could accomplish anything in life that she wanted. Emma soon began working diligently with the Therapy Team to build her strength and endurance for such a mission. She had set high goals for herself and she started to see that they would come to pass after all! She told me how she began researching all of the rides offered at the Magic Kingdom with the stakeholders in the home. She wanted to see which ride she would choose to “tackle”. Then she found the ride which would later become her crowning achievement! It was “Splash Mountain”. Why Splash Mountain? Emma shared her inspiring answer to this question, “Not only was I going to make my dreams come true but I had the desire to face my fears as I am also scared of water”. Emma recalls that even while she was waiting in line for Splash Mountain that she was a little giddy and even a bit fearful. She said, “I thought to myself, Oh Lord, what am I doing? I am not sure I am going to be able to get on this ride. But I did, I really did it!”
Emma stated “I think going to Disney World and having this experience made me a better person. It was perfect! I wouldn’t do anything different. I had a ball. I felt like a kid again and I would compare the entire trip to Christmas morning. You’re not sure what is going to happen or what you’re going to receive but you know it’s going to be great.”
Emma shared that the entire experience from the plane ride, resort stay, food, and companionship was fabulous. She said ”The fun did not stop for our group when we got back to the resort at night. We would lay in bed and giggle like a bunch of kids about all we had got to do that day and what we would get to do the next day!”
Even now when she talks about the trip to friends and family she becomes tearful. She said, “I am so proud of what I accomplished and how I set the goal for myself to do it.” Emma shared with me that she has a current goal to reduce the swelling in her legs so she can start walking again. She said “I know if I can go to Disney and accomplish everything I’ve done in 2014, I can certainly do anything!”
Restored hope is a beautiful thing. We never know where it will come from but when it hits us it propels us into our destinies. For some this was just a vacation to Disney World. For Emma, it was reaching the mountain after several months of climbing!