The families Isaiah Douglas has volunteered for consider him a hero, but the soft-spoken college freshman shrugs off their praise with a “that’s what I’m here for” attitude. Known as patient, kind, and wise beyond his 18 years, Isaiah has a knack for connecting with the most nervous and shy of teens coming to Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ.
Spencer Reid represents an exciting direction for Inheritance of Hope: He is one of two recent hires that were served on a Legacy RetreatⓇ as a child of a diagnosed parent. “The start for my family with IoH was when we were served in May 2015,” he remembers. “My mom had Metastatic Breast Cancer, and not only was it a great, impactful trip, but the timing was very important for us, because my mom passed away just a month later. Our Legacy RetreatⓇ was the last thing we did together as a family.”
In January 2018, fashion designer and philanthropist, Kendra Scott provided a Legacy Retreat® for 10 families facing a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. IoH is dear to Kendra’s heart, and she and her company are quickly becoming dear to the heart of IoH.
|Kendra (left) and Holley (right)|
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.
And go on an IoH retreat. Or help another family go.
Because this is an organization that walks the talk, excels at creating legacy experiences, and “gets it” about cancer challenges for families.
|Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ presented by Kendra Scott|
When I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 28 years old with three very young children, the only thing I ever thought about or wanted was to make meaningful and fun memories with my children and husband that were full of joy. During my year of very hard cancer treatment, I would sit in the infusion chair and think “all I want to do is be with my kids.” It felt impossible to ever think I would be able to go to Orlando with my family. The Legacy RetreatⓇ was a dream come true for me, my husband, and our three kids. We spent that time focused on each other…not scary cancer, not worrying about money or all the other hard things cancer brings on for a young metastatic breast cancer patient. We had the most wonderful and magical time. When I think about our retreat, those who served us, and everyone that made it possible for our family to be there, it makes me cry and feel so much gratitude for angels on earth.
Joni Morris is one of the faces of Kendra Scott’s 3rd annual Holley Day. She also has metastatic breast cancer. Along with her teenage daughters Kendra and Rylee, Joni is raising awareness for Inheritance of Hope in order to give other families the gift that they themselves received. The Morrises attended an all-expenses-paid Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in March, where they met other families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, received tools for navigating the difficulties they face, and perhaps, most importantly, made lifelong memories together.
Within a few minutes of meeting each other, Sham Daniel and Holley Kitchen knew they would be great friends. Sham remembers, “You know how you just instantly recognize people you will connect with? Well, that was Holley.” The two met on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in May 2015, just eight short months before Holley passed away from metastatic breast cancer.
|Precious family memories made at Disney|
In our final installment of this series, Co-Founder and CEO Deric Milligan talks with Communications Manager Angie Howell about his memories, and what has changed in the past ten years.
IoH: What are some of the memories that stand out to you the most from the August 2008 Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George?
Deric: I remember each of the families and the instant connection we all felt because we were going through similar situations. The bond was simply incredible, and unlike anything I had ever experienced. One of the participants, Mark Contreras, had ALS. I remember his incredible strength and peace. Even though he struggled to speak, everyone was patient in allowing him to finish his thoughts. I remember riding the Comet, a wooden roller coaster, time after time with Mark Heinzelman as if there wasn't a care in the world, even as he battled cancer. I remember Shannon Dodd gleefully riding rides with sons Jakob and Tae just over a month before she died.
Communications Manager Angie Howell continues our conversations with members of the IoH family who were on our very first Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George in August 2008. Meg Hill served as the children’s counselor that weekend, and leading up to the retreat, began to write the curriculum that we still draw from today! Below, Meg shares her memories from ten years ago, and her thoughts about what is still the same.
IoH: Tell us what you remember about the August 2018 retreat at Lake George.
Meg: I was nervous being in charge of all the kids--Kristen and Deric had trusted me to do all the children’s groups and activities, and at one point, said to me, “you’re the kid person, tell us what to do!”
The Heinzelmans--Sue, Mark, Jessica, and Robbie--were one of seven families on our first Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George in New York during the summer of 2008. Our Communications Manager, Angie Howell, recently caught up with mom Sue to hear how the family is doing now. Mark passed away in October 2009, but Sue wants other families to know that “There is hope for the future.”
|The Heinzelman Family in Lake George, New York|