In 1980, a little boy living in Arizona dreamed of being a police officer. He was also dying of leukemia. Within days of his story being told, many came forward with offers to make the boy’s wish come true. The boy flew in a helicopter, rode on a motorcycle and in a police car, was fitted with a miniature uniform and received an honorary police officer’s badge. With that, the organization Make-A-Wish was born. More than thirty years later, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to terminally ill children at a rate of one every 38 minutes.

But it is not just children who have dreams – and unfulfilled wishes. In a 2007 movie called “The Bucket List,” two terminally ill men head off on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” This movie made people all over think about what they wanted to do before they died and many made their own bucket lists.

Today there are organizations modeled after Make-A-Wish that grant the wishes of senior citizens who can no longer pursue their wishes due to age, illness or lack of resources. One is  The Twilight Wish Foundation whose vision is “to make the world a nicer place to age, one wish at a time.” Recently the Twilight Foundation granted a wish to a senior who wished to celebrate her 100th birthday by taking a ride in a hot air balloon.

Seniors Have Dreams Too is another organization that grants wishes to elders. They grant wishes to elders who have worked hard all their lives and have been unable to participate in a long-held dream. The inspiration for Seniors Have Dreams Too was Shirley, an accomplished artist, residing in a skilled nursing facility who had never had her own art exhibit. The organization arranged for her to have a “one woman” art show at a local café. She had a champagne reception with family and friends and even sold two paintings. It was her dream come true.

In All Things Aging, the on-line newsletter of the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, Amy Magan, Communications Manager, wrote about her mother-in-law who was always telling her children not to put things off― to “do it now.” “I guess that’s the point for all of us,” writes Magan. “Don’t put it off. Don’t wait. For ourselves and especially for our loved ones. Let’s not think of these lists of things we want to do as “bucket lists,” but as “living life lists.”

Hot Air Balloon photo credit: TC-BKP in Cappadocia, Turkey via photopin (license)