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Choosing Joy

Just a few weeks into life without her husband Brad, Aisha Thomas has made one thing clear--she is choosing joy and gratitude.  The two are inextricably linked, and for Aisha, one begets the other. In continuing the family’s practice of gratitude, which the family does indeed practice every day, Aisha acknowledges what she is thankful for, and she acknowledges more than most people.  The mom of three and school principal admits it’s not easy, “I will say, it is the hardest time of joy-choosing. With kids, it is not necessarily hard to find it, but it is hard to choose it.” 

 

The Thomas family--all smiles on their IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ
The Thomas family--all smiles on their IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ
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Tyler Emmerd Speaks up for Inheritance of Hope

Over the summer, fourteen-year-old Tyler Emmerd chose to focus on Inheritance of Hope for a speech that he gave to 30 of his peers (well, if you can call seniors peers to an incoming high school freshman!).   Tyler admits to some serious nerves before taking this required class, but he nailed it! 

 

Tyler and his family attended the Orlando May 2017 Legacy RetreatⓇ, and he counts visiting Sea World among his favorite memories. This animal lover had always wanted to see a sea turtle in person, but spending time with his parents, Melinda and Mike, and siblings Hailey, Ryan, and Cayla was even better, “We loved spending time with each other without the stress of cancer in our lives.  I love looking back on our vacation and remembering how special it was in all of our pictures we have,” he says.  

 

Tyler (second from right) and his family ready to take on Universal Studios
Tyler (second from right) and his family ready to take on Universal Studios
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Caitlin Shorey Raises Her Voice for Inheritance of Hope

Only eight years old, Caitlin Shorey has a big voice, and people are listening.  While she often uses it to belt out Broadway show tunes, lately this powerhouse of a third-grader has been speaking up for one of her favorite charities, Inheritance of Hope (IoH).  IoH serves young families facing the loss of a parent due to terminal illness, and Caitlin’s family benefitted from an IoH Orlando Legacy Retreat® in March 2018.  

 

“It was amazing to be able to express my feelings in a way that I didn’t have to hide anything, and I met new friends from all over,” Caitlin enthusiastically explains.  “For example, sometimes I feel scared, sad, or anxious about what might happen to my mom, but everyone in that group understood what I feel. On an IoH retreat, everyone knows because they have all experienced it.” 

 

The Shorey Family on their IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ
The Shorey Family on their IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ

 

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Nine New Volunteers Join The Inheritance of Hope Family

The IoH family welcomed nine new volunteers into our ranks at the first-ever North Carolina Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ:  Beth Batchelder, Suzie Boatright, Hailey Boonstra, Rae McMannis, Fred Morse, Dawn Keel, Marina Randles, Diane Sohl, and Jill Vaughan.

 

New volunteers ready to serve
New volunteers ready to serve

 

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Family Spotlight: Amanda Coleman on her husband Mike’s Legacy

Of her family’s Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Amanda Coleman comments, “It’s pretty amazing what three days came to!” Amanda, her late husband Mike, and their daughter Leah joined IoH in May 2013 for an Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, while Mike was battling glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. 

 

Mike had vacationed at Disney World as a child himself, which Amanda describes as “his favorite place on earth.”  Some of the family’s best memories from their trip were Leah meeting Princess Merida and Mike insisting on carrying his small daughter through the park when she began to tire out.  Amanda remembers, “He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to do that, and he wanted Leah to remember that it was her Daddy who carried her.”

 

Amanda, Leah and Mike on their Legacy RetreatⓇ

 

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Meet our newest volunteers

Our family is growing.  Inheritance of Hope now has a roster of 300+ amazing volunteers!  On our Orlando Legacy Retreat in April, we were thrilled to welcome the following into our ranks:

 

Ethan Baur, Clara Beovich, Caroline Braun, Mara Caples, Ally Dee, Anna Latimer, Emileah Most, Micah Most, Sara Theisen, Ethan Trejo, and Cheryl Yeaton.

 

Get to know them a little better here!

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Anna Conti volunteers on her twentieth retreat!

On any Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Anna Conti’s hands are full.  With little hands. Our chief “hand-holder” and “sticker-sticker” is rarely without a charge of adoring little ones basking in the sunshine of her undivided attention.  Anna knows that debates about princesses and villains are just as important as conversations about pets, career opportunities in the superhero field, and whether to choose the kids’ mac and cheese meal or pizza. Adept at navigating Dr. Seuss Landing or Magic Kingdom, Anna is proud to call herself a “Disney girl.”  She can distract from a sugar-induced meltdown, welcome the most shy preschooler into a group, and ease any parent’s separation anxiety, because she recognizes and loves each child wholeheartedly.



This Disney girl knows how to rock a pair of mouse ears!
This Disney girl knows how to rock a pair of mouse ears!
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What people with brain cancer want you to know

1. “Don’t assume just because someone looks fine on the outside that they are OK.”  Variations of this comment came up in multiple interviews with our IoH families affected by brain cancer.   Wives described husbands who sleep afternoons in order to save up energy for cheering at a child’s big game that night, or the frustration of large gatherings where others may not understand that noise and questions can be too exhausting.  

 

2. Anxiety can accompany any activity, and sometimes only a close caregiver is able to recognize signs of an impending seizure or other complication.  

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Family Spotlight: Gabe and Erin Matheny’s survivor story

“If I could, I would make people go on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ,” says Gabe Matheny, former EMT from Corinth, Texas.  Diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, Gabe attended an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando with his family in May 2018.  “Originally, I was hesitant to go, but IoH was probably the biggest, best experience that has happened to us, and one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  It was a huge relief for us, and we had so much fun with our kids.” He goes on, “Plus, the resources, the memories we got out of that, and the new friendships we still have...  There would have been absolutely no way for us to do that otherwise. From the first moment we got off the plane, the welcome we were given--the staff and volunteers just did so much. You could see it in their faces.”  Gabe pauses to consult with his wife, Erin, “what is the word I’m looking for?”

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Lighting a Candle for Hope

“Scents of Hope,” Marti Ogren’s candle business, is aptly named.  The preschool teacher, who also spent 35 years in a first grade classroom, has found her second calling, and her purpose is bigger than filling your home with pleasant fragrances.  Lest you get the wrong idea, Marti is passionate about the process of developing, testing, and making her soy-based candles. She embraces every step, from brainstorming new products to pouring the warm clear liquid and watching it cool to a creamy solid.  But, she is even more passionate about inspiring hope.

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