Almost two years ago, Cristina Tebolt, described by her husband Seiji Shiraishi as a “city girl,” visited New York City for the last time. Having lived there before the couple married, Cristina was in her element. The Big Apple was decked out for the holidays, and Cristina could not have been happier to be a part of it. Through an IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ, Cristina, Seiji, and their children Karina and Oliver were treated to a boat tour, the view from Top of the Rock, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and more. As important as these precious memories will always be, the Tebolt-Shiraishi family gained something else invaluable--a support system of other families all facing the terminal illness of a parent.
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Elise Barrett has sound advice for caregivers who are walking the same path she has walked: “One of the things I had to learn over and over again is that human capacity is limited,” she recently shared. “These experiences take more out of you than you can replenish, and you can’t blame yourself. You are going to be compromised. You are not going to be able to always be patient, be loving, plan, or make meals. Whatever your thing is, you might not be able to do it. It is so important to normalize that uncomfortable truth, and to find ways of accepting it, and to discover ways of adapting. There will be many seasons, and letting each season be what it is can be what survival looks like.”
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Ⓡ.
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)|
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.
In February 2014, Carol Lacert accompanied her daughter Marci Guay and granddaughter Hannah Guay to an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ in Orlando. At the time, Marci, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, was enjoying good health, but like many of our families, they were uncertain--not just about the retreat, but about the future that lay beyond. In particular, Hannah, then 13, had fears she could not easily express.
Taylor Ethridge pauses as she thinks over a question. The Community Outreach and Event Planner for Kendra Scott Orlando is being interviewed about her recent experience volunteering at an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat®. She is not getting off easy, “Can you explain more about how you were forever changed?” she is asked.
Taylor considers her words carefully but chooses one, “Hope.”
The baby in our logo is all grown up.
|The “o” in hope is based on a photo of the Milligan children|
Most of us in the Inheritance of Hope family are familiar with Rebecca Milligan, the youngest child of Co-Founders Deric and Kristen Milligan. Just seven months old when her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rebecca, now almost 16, has grown up with the organization. A picture of the three Milligan children was the inspiration for our logo, and the smallest child on the right was created with the likeness of Rebecca in mind.
Angie Howell first volunteered for Inheritance of Hope in 2012 and has been involved ever since. “Like most volunteers,” she says, “I knew I would come back!”
Angie was introduced to IoH by her former Davidson College classmate, Co-Founder Kristen Milligan. Kristen and Angie were on the same freshman hall in 1991-1992. The two did not keep in touch after graduation, but at a fifteen-year reunion, Angie happened to hear Kristen’s name during a prayer.
Since 2008, Aaron Hedges has been part of Inheritance of Hope in one way or another--working at retreats, administering technology systems, managing human resources, and much more. The former double major in math and Spanish clearly has a unique set of skills, ones that are critically valuable to IoH.
|Aaron at a recent Legacy Retreat in Orlando, Florida|