Mikki Jeschke’s goals include volunteering, fundraising, and launching a non-profit organization. But the mother of two from Fishers, Indiana, didn’t have these projects in mind when she attended the Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® at Disney World with her family in May last year.
Mikki’s first diagnosis in May 2009 revealed stage III breast cancer. Chemotherapy, radiation, and drug treatments followed, and the Jeschkes thought her cancer was gone. But in March of 2012 doctors discovered the cancer had spread to Mikki’s bones.
A friend who had volunteered with Inheritance of Hope told the Jeschkes about the organization’s Legacy Retreats®. The Jeschkes were registered for an all-expenses-paid Legacy Retreat® to Disney World within a month of the discovery of Mikki’s metastasized breast cancer.
Mikki said at first she was in denial about the need to attend a retreat that focused on legacy, but her husband, Doug, said he insisted the family go.
“I knew it would be good for us to go and take it on and face reality,” he said.
Doug said the Legacy Retreat® gave his family intentional quality time together. Mikki said she remembers riding trains and watching fireworks with 9-year-old son Benjamin and 6-year-old son Daniel.
“The time we got to spend as a family was something we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Doug said.
The Jeschkes still keep in touch with Inheritance of Hope volunteers who became like part of their family, Mikki said.
The retreat also introduced the Jeschkes to other families living with life-threatening illnesses.
“To meet other families who were going through similar situations was helpful for me because sometimes when you have a diagnosis you feel isolated,” Mikki said.
The Jeschkes left Florida with ideas and tools to discuss Mikki’s illness at home. Mikki said her sons sometimes ask questions and talk about ways to handle stress.
“Being a part of that legacy for my kids was a real turning point for me and has led me to understand how this fits into our family since then,” Mikki said.
The Legacy Retreat® also inspired the Jeschkes to serve. After attending the retreat in May with her family, Mikki joined Inheritance of Hope in New York City as a volunteer during its November Legacy Retreat®. She also invited her sister and aunt to share the volunteer experience.
“Being able to work with the kids gave me a glimpse of what my kids went through,” Mikki said.
The Legacy Retreat® experience also motivated the Jeschkes to launch their own non-profit organization. Greater Things will help fundraise for people who want to serve, and the Jeschkes are planning events with volunteers in their local community, Doug said. Mikki said she is also organizing a team to run in the Indianapolis 5k Color Run with the goal of raising $5,000 – enough money to pay for a family to attend an Inheritance of Hope retreat.
A year after her family’s Legacy Retreat®, Mikki said her health is in good condition, and she hopes to accomplish her goals of fundraising and volunteering with the help of her husband and sons.
“We don’t need babysitters so we can do service projects” she said. “Our kids are very much a part of it.”