NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Adults with just months to live are seeing their final dreams realized thanks to a Middle Tennessee non-profit organization.
Mindy Bess started the foundation in honor of her father, who was diagnosed with a rare form of terminal brain cancer when he was 38-years-old. His dying wish was to meet Garth Brooks, but he passed away before his dream could be realized.
“Unfortunately, there were no resources available to fulfill it,” said Mindy Bess, Founder and CEO of the James Bess Foundation. “It just kind of struck a nerve with me.”
Since 2016, Bess has worked to make sure others don’t experience the same disappointment. Any adult ages 21 to 65 who lives in the United States and has a life expectancy of 18 months or less is qualified to apply to have a wish granted.
Donations, grants, community partnerships and Bess’ hard work help make the wishes come true.
“Seeing it all come to pass is a dream,” said Bess. “By granting their dreams, I’m living mine.”
Bess has granted 10 wishes so far. Requests have ranged from a beach vacation with family, to a chance to be reunited with an estranged son.
“I enjoy coordinating the wish and talking with clients and working with them to the best of our ability,” said Bess.
Darryl Curtis is battling stage four colon cancer, and applied for a wish a couple of months ago.
“I asked for a lawnmower,” Curtis said. “That is a thing I need, and it will help me forever until I’m gone.”
Curtis enjoys spending time in the backyard of his Rock Island home, but as his chemotherapy treatments have begun to take a toll, he has less strength to be outdoors.
Bess worked with the Home Depot Foundation to not only provide Curtis with a brand new riding lawnmower, but volunteers came to his home to mow the yard and plant flowers.
“I was pushing back tears,” recalled Curtis. “The lawnmower pulled up and I was overwhelmed. I can’t explain how it felt to have all those people here.”
Curtis admitted he was hesitant to apply to have a wish granted because he felt there were other people who were worse off than him and more deserving. However, his family encouraged him to do it, and now he encourages other adults with life-threatening illnesses to do the same.
“Do it. You deserve it,” said Curtis. “There are a lot of groups that help children, but when it comes to adults, who can think of any?”
Bess hopes the foundation will continue to grow to help more people like Darryl.
“We want to grant as many wishes as we can,” said Bess. “I think my dad would be proud of what we are doing and humbled we are honoring him in this way.”
For more information on the James Bess Foundation, or to apply to have a wish granted, or make a donation visit: https://www.jamesbess.org/