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“Instant Connection” Tenth Anniversary Conversations:  Deric Milligan shares his memories from the very first IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ

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.

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“The Heart of IoH is still there every time” 10-year Legacy RetreatⓇ conversation with counselor Meg Hill

Communications Manager Angie Howell continues our conversations with members of the IoH family who were on our very first Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George in August 2008. Meg Hill served as the children’s counselor that weekend, and leading up to the retreat, began to write the curriculum that we still draw from today! Below, Meg shares her memories from ten years ago, and her thoughts about what is still the same.

 

IoH: Tell us what you remember about the August 2018 retreat at Lake George.

 

Meg: I was nervous being in charge of all the kids--Kristen and Deric had trusted me to do all the children’s groups and activities, and at one point, said to me, “you’re the kid person, tell us what to do!”

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Southwest “luvs” on Families Facing Terminal Illness

Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is a non-profit organization that inspires hope in young families facing the loss of a parent. Through all-expenses-paid Legacy RetreatsⓇ, parents who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, along with their caregiver and children, are given the opportunity to make precious memories, receive tools for navigating this difficult time in their lives, and meet others with the same fears and challenges. IoH will host retreats in Orlando, California, Colorado, and New York throughout 2018.

 

For almost every family Inheritance of Hope serves, the Legacy RetreatⓇ starts at the airport. Some of these families have children who have never flown, and some have parents who wondered how they would ever fly again. While the individual stories change, these families are all traveling at very vulnerable times in their lives, with health considerations that extend far beyond the needs of an average traveler.

 

It is only because of the persistence and compassion of our retreat team, and its corporate relationships, that our diverse retreat participants arrive ready for the life-changing experience that awaits them. Many IoH families fly Southwest Airlines to our retreats, and through our relationship, IoH has found a friend with heart.

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Meet Gina Roes, Inheritance of Hope’s new Legacy Resources Manager

Shortly after 9/11, Gina Roes answered a call for counselors to come to New York City. Without a guaranteed job, she packed up, sold her house, and moved, with her dog, to Manhattan. This spirit of trust, compassion, and courage allows her to best serve Inheritance of Hope’s families.

 

Gina Roes
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Meet Inheritance of Hope’s new Social Media Intern, Shelby Jo Lewis

Shelby Jo Lewis and her family attended the Inheritance of Hope NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014, just after her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  At the time, Shelby wondered if she would fit in with others on the retreat and in the big city. “I’m from a tiny town in the South,” she explains, “and I wasn’t sure about this whole experience; but as soon as I saw the smile on our volunteer’s face, I knew it was going to be a great retreat.”

 

Shelby and her family on their NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014.
 Shelby and her family on their NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014.
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Meet Julie Hull, Inheritance of Hope’s new Volunteers Manager

Julie Hull sums up her daily goals succinctly. “In our house, we say that love is the highest order of the day. Not perfection, but love.”

 

Those in the Inheritance of Hope family who know and love Julie will recognize that this is exactly how she approaches everything--from her position as IoH Volunteers Manager to each interaction with the families we serve. Julie is transparent in her compassionate way of striving to best love those in her path. Mom to a rising high school senior, Julie, her late husband Ken, and their son Sam were introduced to IoH in November 2011 when they attended the New York Legacy Retreat. She is not one to shy away from the painful realities of grief and single-parenting, and is refreshingly honest in telling other families that while her path has not been easy, she finds hope everyday to continue being the best parent she can be.

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Meet Heidi Benson, Inheritance of Hope’s new Families Manager

A Facebook post and a few clicks led Heidi Benson to Inheritance of Hope, and she has served on almost every Legacy Retreat since. A friend of a friend posted about their retreat experience as a volunteer, and as she read more, Heidi says she immediately knew she wanted to be a part of IoH, “Everything in my heart, all my passions, lined up with this.” Before she knew it, Heidi was interviewing to be a volunteer.

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Meet Dena Austin, Inheritance of Hope’s new Legacy Retreat and Venue Coordinator

Dena Austin and her husband Blake are veteran Legacy RetreatⓇ volunteers, and now Dena is stepping into the role of Legacy Retreat and Venue Coordinator. A volunteer since 2016, Coordinator since January 2017, and supporter since 2014, Dena knew she wanted to become involved with Inheritance of Hope as soon as she heard about the Legacy RetreatⓇ experience from friends John and Heather Crawford. John, Heather, and their boys were served on the August 2014 retreat to Orlando.

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Fun Facts About IoH’s New Tech Manager, Dillon Padgett

Favorite TV show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air (favorite actor: Will Smith!)

 

Favorite board game: Settlers of Catan

 

States I've been to, in the past 2 years: Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, New York, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio. (Bonus: Banff, Alberta, CA)

 

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Meet Dillon Padgett, Our New Technology Manager

Dillon Padgett, veteran Legacy Retreat volunteer, has recently joined the Inheritance of Hope team in a staff role.

 

The self-described first-time “accidental volunteer” has now logged six retreats. His introduction to serving at Legacy Retreats was in the Spring of 2015, when a visit to his sister was interrupted by the funeral of a close family friend. The siblings detoured by Orlando on their way to the service in West Palm Beach, and Dillon told IoH Co-Founder and CEO Deric Milligan, “use me if you can.” Deric did just that, immediately plugging Dillon into the team of volunteers.

 

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