(August 30, 2022) – In the spring of 2022, at the age of 90, Check Mills had been a widower for about five years and was emerging from the shadow of isolation brought on by the restrictions of COVID-19. His son, Mark, lived in the Bahamas off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, not far from where Check had owned and run the University Men’s Shop near the University of Miami for decades. Mark hadn’t seen his dad for a number of years and was hoping for a reunion, along with Check’s younger brother, Rod, who was battling cancer.
After selling the formalwear shop and his dry-cleaning business, Mark had retired to the Bahamas, where devastation struck when his home was destroyed by a hurricane. After rebuilding, he was eager for Check to visit and stay with him again. Plans had been made previously but never came to fruition for various reasons, so Mark reached out to Greg Rossidivito, Director of Life Enrichment at Abernethy Laurels, for help pulling things together.
Greg immediately thought about the Grant a Dream™ program, whose goal is to renew and celebrate a resident’s passion while also creating joy through the wish. Greg and Mark completed the application and coordinated the trip, also arranging for CNA Todd Shull to accompany Check and provide care and support throughout the journey.
While they were at Mark’s home in the Exumas Islands in the Bahamas, Check and Mark relaxed in the tropical sun and clear waters and made time for family connections and reminiscing. One of Check’s favorite memories from the trip was hanging out at a local restaurant and enjoying seafood they’d caught earlier on Mark’s boat while chatting with a group of young women – physician’s assistants from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. It’s the sort of conviviality Check capitalizes on no matter where he finds himself, but on this occasion, the circumstances made it extra special.
Although he was born and raised in Millville, NJ, Check served in the Navy in Florida, trained in sonar technology in Key West during the Korean conflict, met his wife in South Florida, and lived and worked in Miami for years. Miami is also where his children and his brother live, so it was a much-anticipated, post-pandemic homecoming and a welcome opportunity for him to return to his old stomping grounds.
Although Check is unsure whether a future trip might be in his plans – he found the logistics and security requirements of travel tiring – he’s still delighted to have gone and is thankful for the Grant a Dream™ program that made it a reality. Silhouetted against blinds drawn to keep the house cool, he excitedly confirmed his pleasure. “Oh, boy. Oh, yeah. I had a great time with Mark. I was very proud of Mark, and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.”
Passion renewed? Absolutely. Joy created? Without a doubt. As he recapped the details, there was no mistaking Check’s delight at having his Bahamas adventure be so satisfying and heartwarming. And that’s just the sort of enthusiastic, overflowing response that Grant a Dream™ is thrilled to make possible.
*For more details about the program and its variety of fulfillment opportunities – which are available to residents, participants, and tenants at all EveryAge communities – contact Kim Kilday, Chief Marketing Officer, at [email protected] or at 828.465.8014. Grant a Dream™ is proudly funded by the EveryAge Foundation.