The Living Wish Foundation is a registered Canadian charity, co-founded by Alyssa Boyd a palliative physician, and Nancy Good-Kennedy and Lisa Wright, two certified palliative care nurses. They started out looking for a charity to help their palliative patients and their loved ones with end-of-life wishes but quickly discovered that there was no such charity for adults in their community. They started The Living Wish Foundation in 2018 with the goal of helping patients reframe hope by focusing on something meaningful to them. Their vision is for everyone to benefit from the joy of one last wish. More than 50 wishes have been granted in Simcoe County since 2019.
Wishes have varied in cost, size and variety and include requests for a cup of coffee, sip of wine, taste of a favorite iced cream, family meals, fishing trips, golf and spa days, celebration of life parties, weddings, trips to family cottages, a conversation with Dan Marino, and a trip to a Blue Jays Game. The Living Wish Foundation also does many legacy wish projects such as making special memory bears, hand casts, and legacy books, letters and videos.
Anyone with a wish and a prognosis of one year or less is considered. The Foundation focuses on event planning, transportation, providing medical escorts to and from events, and if a request is not within their means, they look for a sponsor donor or an organization. Sometimes people have the money but not the know-how, so event planning and medical support is provided.
According to Lisa Wright RN, Co-Founder and Program Coordinator of the Living Wish Foundation, “Often patients have a bleak outlook at the end of life. Adults don’t ask to go to Disney world. They want simple things like ice cream with their family or just time with loved ones and these wishes are often very doable and make a huge difference to quality of life at the end of life.”
The Living Wish Foundation relies solely on fundraising events and donations to cover the costs of doing business, including maintaining a patient transfer vehicle, staffing, and overhead.
The goal for wishes in 2019 was one wish per month. That goal was exceeded. It was exceeded again in 2020 despite COVID-19 constraints. In 2021, the Foundation doubled their wish granting capabilities and create a virtual wish program, expand their long-term care and "Tiny Wish" programs, and establishing many community partnerships to make wishes happen safely despite many challenges. The focus for 2023 will be to increase monthly donations to allow for strategic planning and growth and to find an office /storage space.
Lisa Wright and the team at the Living Wish Foundation acknowledge growing pains and the need for additional resources as a result of their program’s tremendous success. “We have good growing pains because we do not have enough staff to fulfill all the wishes. Every year we grow, we have more and more wishes as the word spreads, and we do not have the infrastructure to support this. We need donors as well as skilled volunteers such as physicians, nurses, emergency service personnel such as firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers who know how to transport patients. What we do is we transport the patient, and plan the event and deliver the wish. It is so great to do something really nice for people at the end of life.”
Recently, the Foundation received a beautiful video from a wish recipient’s funeral, see on YouTube (35:29 to 36:20). This video speaks to the impact on the person receiving the wish and to the ripple effect fulfilled wishes have on the patient’s family, friends, and the community.
For more information, to contact the Living Wish Foundation, or to apply for a wish: contact us.