Wedding Dream Comes True
Don Neubauer was determined to go to his daughter’s wedding.
He knew he wouldn’t be able to walk his daughter down the aisle, or make a toast at the reception. Progressive supranuclear palsy, a progressive degenerative neurological condition, had long ago rendered him unable to walk or talk. A patient at Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Home of Hope, he relied on a wheelchair, caregivers and volunteers to meet his daily needs.
An out-of-town trip to a wedding seemed almost impossible. Neubauer barely weighed 100 pounds. His strength was waning. Eating was a challenge; every bite brought with it the very real possibility of choking.
It was clear that he’d need qualified assistance if he were to attend the wedding. But who could help him? Who would give up the day to make his dreams come true?
Enter Cheryl McAdams, a Hospice Hope volunteer who helped Neubauer with his meals once a week.
When she heard that he wanted to attend his daughter’s wedding, she jumped at the chance to accompany him. “I had the chance to take someone to a special occasion, to be able to help someone share a special moment,” McAdams says. “How often in life do you get the chance to do that for someone?”
At first, the plan was for Neubauer and McAdams to attend the ceremony only. But through various gestures, Neubauer let everyone know that he “wasn’t satisfied with the idea of just going up and back. He wanted to stay and be part of the reception,” says Jim Hebel, nurse coordinator at the Hospice Home of Hope.
McAdams made it happen. She stayed with Neubauer throughout the wedding and reception. She smiled and laughed as Neubauer rolled across the dance floor with his daughter, dancing to YMCA. She listened to family members’ stories and learned that her patient had a terrific sense of humor. She tended to Neubauer for nearly 12 hours; they didn’t get back to the Hospice Home of Hope until nearly 11 pm.
Less than six months later, Neubauer passed away. His family is eternally grateful for the fact that Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Hope enabled him to be at his daughter’s wedding.
“It meant everything to me,” says Kim Haring, Don’s daughter. “When you think about a wedding, there are a lot of special things between a dad and his daughter. I got to have that. It would have been a very different day without him.”
In the photo Don Neubauer treasures every moment of his daughter’s wedding thanks to efforts from Cheryl McAdams, a volunteer with Agnesian HealthCare’s Hospice Hope program. Kim (right) is shown with Neubauer and her mother, Linda Ziegler. (Photo courtesy of Mark Hawkins Photography)