Train Concert Answers Hospice Patient’s Final Wish

Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train, talking to Dianne | Photo courtesy of Cody Bozarth/Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

Dianne George has had more than her share of setbacks for the last decade and a half, but she’s focusing on the bright spots.

A year after graduating from MacMurray College in Jacksonville in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in psychology, the Jacksonville woman suffered a stroke before she could begin work on her master’s and while trying to raise a teenage son on her own.

Six years later, she had a lumpectomy in her left breast, but the cancer wasn’t contained. Following several rounds of radiation treatment, Dianne decided “that I’d had enough chemo.” In her late 50s, she decided it was time.

Amid all the difficult news, there have been two bright spots.

Every Sunday afternoon, her son, Billy Dean, drops by her apartment, and the two of them watch NASCAR together.

The other occurred on Aug. 15 when she traveled from her Jacksonville home to Springfield to see her favorite rock band, Train, perform as part of the grandstand lineup at the Illinois State Fair.

“It was well worth it,” Dianne said after the concert. “It was awesome.” She and her son had a chance to meet the band backstage; the group’s lead singer, Pat Monahan, sat down and talked with her for several minutes. You can read more about her experience at the concert in an article by the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

With Dianne’s limited income, going to a concert was an extravagance she could scarcely afford. The trip was made possible by the Sharing Wishes Fund, which is administered by the Memorial Medical Center Foundation to help fulfill the wishes of terminally ill patients and their families.

“She was so excited. She had tears in her eyes,” Kalli Hall, a hospice medical social worker for Memorial Home Services Hospice, recalled when she told Dianne that the tickets had been approved.

Describing her work as extremely rewarding while emotionally exhausting, Kalli said the opportunity to be the first to tell Dianne that she had tickets for Train “was probably the most fun I’ve had in this job yet.”

The newly established fund is nearly a year old. After a gala and silent auction attended by an estimated 300 people to kick off the Sharing Wishes Fund in March 2012, the fund began to meet the needs of hospice patients in central Illinois.

“Sometimes, it’s a matter of granting the simplest of wishes,” Elena Kezelis, executive director of the Foundation, said. “It may be planning a long-desired trip, arranging for a special family-and-friends activity or scheduling a visit from a distant loved one.”

Dianne and her son, Billy Dean

Not only did the Sharing Wishes Fund take care of the tickets for Dianne and her son, it also paid for a scooter from Memorial Home Services to help her get around.  And the organizers of the state fair paid for Dianne’s general admission tickets and provided a complimentary parking pass.

The night created an important memory for Dianne and her son. One cherished moment was when the band sang her favorite song, “Calling All Angels” – a song about searching for hope where everything else in the world appears lost.

“When I’m gone, Billy Dean will have that song to remember me by.”

To see a complete list of wishes granted or to make a donation to the Sharing Wishes Fund visit the Sharing Wishes page on the Memorial Medical Center Foundation website.

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