“Not Make A Wish – but my brother got terminal brain cancer when he was 18. He was given three to six months to live and it shook our family to the core. Back then his only wish was to be an NFL player. But he was a little fella. About 5’8 but full of heart and determination; he always reminded me of Rudy in that Notre Dame football movie.
He fought cancer with everything he had for six years. Somewhere around his 22nd birthday he and I were talking about life and what was worth fighting for. We had a long and existential discussion. I told him that you could really fight for whatever you wanted but a bright future for others was something always worth fighting for. I then encouraged him to find something similar to fight for.
We went on vacation soon after that, and because we were broke from medical bills and four years of battling cancer as a family, this was a HUGE deal. We hadn’t had a family vacation for a long time. A family friend put us up in their beach house and gave us some money to have a good time there. My brother came ALIVE on the trip. It was so impactful to him that he came home and decided to start a non-profit organization.
He called it ‘A Week Away.’ It was very similar to make-a-wish – terminally sick patients apply and benefit from an all-expenses-paid vacation with their family or group of caregivers. That was a big deal to him to include the family because, if you’ve ever gone through something like that, you know it’s not just the patient who suffers and loses their freedom, it’s everyone they are close to.
He worked his butt off to start the organization. He formed it and began sending families to places like the outer banks and ocean city and other east coast beaches. A week before he died, he launched his first big month-long fundraiser.
He passed away knowing that he had raised enough to send like 10 families on respite weeks. It was like he was passing the baton off to others who could keep on fighting. The org is still going strong today. If anyone is blessed to have their health and a sweet vacation spot you’d like to donate for occasional use by sick people all coordinated by an awesome organization, I’d encourage you to reach out to the A Week Away folks.”