NewsLocal News


Hopes & Dreams program creates lasting memories for families of hospice patients

grandkids and grandma.jpg
Posted at 12:38 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 13:38:24-05

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- The passing of a loved one is an emotional time for families.

A very special program at ThedaCare's hospice facilities is preserving those final moments and passing along cherished memories in the form of a stuffed animal.

Beverly Caron's mother-in-law, Paula, passed away from breast cancer in 2016. She was just 60-years-old.

During her life, Paula was a big part of her grandchildren's lives.

She was their daycare provider when they were babies and small children.

"They knew she was sick pretty much their entire lives," said Beverly Caron, the mother of two children who received bears in 2016 just days before their grandma passed away.

Paula's final week was spent at Cherry Meadows, one of ThedaCare's hospice facilities.

With support from the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, the ThedaCare Hospice Foundation offers the Hopes & Dreams program.

The goal of this program is to create lasting memories and grant the final wishes of patients and their families.

One way they accomplish this goal is by offering a Build-A-Bear with recorded messages placed inside.

Beverly's two children, Hanna and Logan, received bears a few days before their grandma passed away.

The kids were just 4 and 6-years old when Paula passed.

"Facing the loss of a loved one can be especially hard for kids," said Jane Shea, a hospice volunteer specialist for ThedaCare at Home. "This way they can know that grandparent remains beyond their life."

Hanna's bear was a pink princess bear wearing a dress and tiara.

Logan's bear was a Ghost Buster bear dressed in Captain America jammies.

"One of the big fears that Paula had when she was sick and passing away was because the kids were so little that they wouldn't remember her," said Caron. "I think the bears keep her memory alive."

It certainly has. Years later, they still talk about their grandma and the memories they shared.

The bears have been one of the kids' most prized possessions.

"My son keeps his in his room yet," said Caron. "It has been a staple since he got it."

"To know that five years later Grandma's voice is still playing is pretty awesome," said Shea. "I think it deserves to be a part of the Hopes & Dreams program."

It could be a song, message, prayer or even a heartbeat.

A recording tucked inside an adorable stuffed animal will provide a nice distraction and lasting comfort during the toughest of times.

ThedaCare is always looking for volunteers to help out at their hospice facilities.

If you're interested in getting involved, email for more information on volunteering opportunities.

If you'd like to make a donation to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, click here.