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Why the Worse Things Get, This Family Just Gets Better

As we get ready to meet and serve so many families, what a joy it is to see and spend time with so many wonderful people on this amazing team. Everything we do well happens because of great teamwork, and that is true of these coming days, full of new ways of serving. I know there’s curiosity about how we’re serving these families, and we’ll certainly be sharing a lot of that. I want to kick us off, though, by emphasizing why we’re serving these families.

 

 

To illustrate the importance of why, think back with me, deep into history... to that time long ago when sports were a big deal. Can you remember that? Remember when sports even happened?!

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A Marathon of a Friendship: The Loerzel and Douglas Families are in it together for the long haul

It’s a friendship from the era of floppy discs and homemade scrapbooks.  Chris Douglas and Greg Loerzel met in the computer lab of North Dakota State University as aspiring engineers, and Greg’s wife Maria has proof of the many adventures they have had ever since. 

 

Chris (left) and Greg have been friends for over two decades
Chris (left) and Greg have been friends for over two decades
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Family Spotlight: Amanda Coleman on her husband Mike’s Legacy

This story was originally posted in 2019, and we are honored to repost as we acknowledge brain cancer awareness month.  A year later, the Coleman family has continued to grow, adding two dogs, three cats, and activities for both kids, who stay busy with various interests.  Amanda, Leah, and Ben keep Mike’s memory close to their hearts, especially at bedtime, “I always say he is right beside us listening,” Amanda explains.  “The kids look forward to his gifts and cards for birthdays and holidays and we keep his memory alive with us always.  We are moving on with him beside us in Heaven.” 

 

Of her family’s Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Amanda Coleman comments, “It’s pretty amazing what three days came to!” Amanda, her late husband Mike, and their daughter Leah joined IoH in May 2013 for an Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, while Mike was battling glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. 

 

Mike had vacationed at Disney World as a child himself, which Amanda describes as “his favorite place on earth.”  Some of the family’s best memories from their trip were Leah meeting Princess Merida and Mike insisting on carrying his small daughter through the park when she began to tire out.  Amanda remembers, “He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to do that, and he wanted Leah to remember that it was her Daddy who carried her.”

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Family Spotlight: The Crawford and Loner Families maintain hope in the face of ALS

This blog post was originally published in 2016, and these families have both had many changes since then--happy changes!  The Loners now have two healthy grandchildren they enjoy spending time with, and are proud to report that their three grown children are thriving as well.  Niece Abigale has volunteered on three Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and collaborated with Craig in making this video: https://youtu.be/hnDAtDqcHKE last May for ALS awareness month in 2019.

 

Heather Crawford Dodd, now on staff at IoH, began volunteering on retreats in October 2016, not too long after this article was written.  In May 2017, she met Tom Dodd, also a former family member served-turned volunteer.  They married the following December and live in South Carolina with their four boys.  

 

When we first ran this story, little did we know it was just the beginning.  Heather, Dana, and Craig are in touch weekly--by text and often in person.  Before the coronavirus pandemic, Dana and Craig would drive over an hour to Heather's home every few months and help prepare materials for upcoming IoH retreats.  Even now, they frequently check on each other, and provide love and support both ways--as Heather looks to Dana for advice on how to be a good stepmom, "She is an incredibly patient, strong, and selfless woman and a huge inspiration and encouragement to me," remarked Heather. Dana calls Heather an angel sent just when she needed her most, and describes Heather in just the same way as Heather describes Dana, “she continues to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.”

 

We are honored to call these folks family and celebrate the hope they maintain and give to others. 

 

 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If they stumble, the first will lift up his friend—but woe to anyone who is alone when he falls and there is no one to help him get up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

One of the goals of Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is to connect families. Families who are grieving a life-changing diagnosis, struggling with fears, and facing new realities draw strength from each other as they share experiences and burdens.  Through IoH, new friendships are often formed that offer a depth of understanding many families can’t find elsewhere.

 

The support that is shared is sometimes intangible and immeasurable, yet always tremendous. Sometimes, the support may be tangible yet also tremendously immeasurable, as was the case when Heather Crawford donated a wheelchair van to fellow IoH family Craig and Dana Loner.

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Inheritance of Hope Zooms into 38 families’ homes!

Hope--it’s in our title and it’s what we deliver.  It is not found in the Magic Kingdom or at the Top of the Rock, but it is what we most want our families to find on their Legacy Retreat®.  

 

These 38 families were part of something big, and new for IoH!
These 38 families were part of something big, and new for IoH!
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Inheritance of Hope Family member Bill Chionis finds the “Caregiver’s Companion”

It was a love story for the books, and although many readers know how it ends, “The Caregiver’s Companion” is still a page-turner. Not because of the suspense, but because of the sometimes heady, often poetic, and always authentic language that Bill Chionis (2011 NYC Legacy Retreat®) uses to describe his marriage through moves, job changes, children, and ultimately cancer.

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Living Through a Legacy

We are honored to feature Kaila Hayden as a guest blogger this month in recognition of ALS awareness month.  Kaila and her family were served on the August 2014 Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat in Orlando.  Kaila has since volunteered on four retreats, and brings a special compassion to the families she serves.

 

When you lose a loved one, you find yourself clinging to that which reminds you most of them. Their belongings, their hobbies, their interests, whatever was left to you as a memory of their life. After my mom passed, I found myself surrounded by her in photos, in memories, in the gifts and cards for milestones she would miss. When faced with death, she sought intention to leave behind. 



The Hayden Family making a friend on their IoH Legacy Retreat®
The Hayden Family making a friend on their IoH Legacy Retreat®
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Join us in praying during the National Day of Prayer on May 7th

Prayer--whether private or public, poetic or plain, we need it.  In times of both praise and pain, the truest prayers humble us and connect us with our creator who loves us.  Since 1952, presidents from both sides of the aisle have designated a national day of prayer to be held each spring.  Now, when we see more than ever just how deeply we are connected and how tenuously we are tethered to this life, may we pray together as people, not as members of a particular religion or political party.  It is time to pray humbly, lovingly, and hopefully, following the directive of Mahatma Gandhi that “Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.”

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Finding art in unexpected places

Originally published on our blog in May 2019, we are excited to repost Jordan Gersh's artwork in honor of brain cancer awareness month.  Like most college students, Jordan is currently living at home while taking online classes.  She is making the most of her time with her mom and dad, as they cook and bake together and have lots of long conversations around the dinner table. 

 

This collection of work was inspired by my mom for her perseverance and strong will. She has always been my role model and is the strongest woman I know. In the summer leading up to my junior year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor called a glioblastoma. After my mom’s diagnosis, I became very involved in her treatments and doctors’ visits. I enjoyed accompanying her to appointments and often would ask the doctor and surgeon questions, so I could better understand what my mom was going through. At each appointment we would go over MRI and CT scans. First, to prepare for surgery, in which they would remove as much as they could. Secondly, to continue observing the growth or shrinkage of the tumor, post operation and treatments.

 

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Family Spotlight: Gabe and Erin Matheny’s survivor story

Originally posted in May 2019, we would like to share, once again, Gabe and Erin Matheny's story of hope, and the best news of all--that they are still thriving! 

 

“If I could, I would make people go on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ,” says Gabe Matheny, former EMT from Corinth, Texas.  Diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, Gabe attended an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando with his family in May 2018.  “Originally, I was hesitant to go, but IoH was probably the biggest, best experience that has happened to us, and one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  It was a huge relief for us, and we had so much fun with our kids.” He goes on, “Plus, the resources, the memories we got out of that, and the new friendships we still have...  There would have been absolutely no way for us to do that otherwise. From the first moment we got off the plane, the welcome we were given--the staff and volunteers just did so much. You could see it in their faces.”  Gabe pauses to consult with his wife, Erin, “what is the word I’m looking for?”

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