New Athens Woman Takes Dream Ride

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Some might say that Wanda has lived a pretty full life. She was married for 55 years and has helped raise 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Even Wanda herself will say she’s had it pretty good, except for one thing. Wanda always wanted a red convertible, and life never quite brought her one. As a resident of the New Athens Home for the Aged, Wanda’s red convertible seemed like a distant dream. But her caregivers from Passages Hospice thought Wanda deserved to live her dream, and last Friday, she did.

After 84 years of waiting, Wanda finally got her red convertible, and a whole afternoon of celebrity treatment to go with it. Her hair was styled, her makeup was done, and two dozen family members were by her side as Wanda climbed into the red 1970 Cadillac convertible. Ed Cockrell, New Athens resident and founding member of the Passages Hospice Dream Ride Car Club, was happy to be the driver. “If it brings her joy, it’s worth it,” he said. After smiles, hugs and many pictures, Wanda was chauffeured away for a scenic tour of New Athens. A caravan of family members and caregivers followed Wanda in their own private parade.

The parade led to lunch in Freeburg, at Wanda’s favorite restaurant - McDonalds. General Manager Laurie Funken was prepared for the crowd. Wanda’s entourage had a reserved section of the dining room, complete with table linens and flowers. The guest of honor’s meal was on the house. “I just wanted to make it special for her,” Funken said.

The event was sponsored by the Passages Hospice Dream Ride Car Club. The Car Club matches car enthusiasts and local hospice patients for pleasure rides in classic cars. The program is supported by donations to the Passages Hospice Charitable Foundation.

Wanda’s family and caregivers returned to the New Athens Home for the Aged wind-blown but smiling. It had been a full afternoon, but one that Wanda and her loved ones would not soon forget. “Mom had a sparkle in her eye and a glow that we hadn’t seen in awhile,” Wanda’s daughter Sandy said. “What a great day.”

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Charlene Sligting
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