Belle Plaine, MN–”For as long I can remember, my dream has been to go to Disney World someday to meet Mickey Mouse and that crazy dog, Pluto,” says Francis Mueller, a resident at The Lutheran Home: Hope Residence.
It is evident that Francis loves anything related to Disney. His room at The Lutheran Home: Hope Residence is full of Disney memorabilia. He happily tells you that Mickey once called him on his birthday. Mickey and Minnie often accompany him to doctor appointments. He would brainstorm ways to raise funds to meet his lifelong goal to go to meet Mickey. Supportive of his goal, over the years staff members at Hope Residence researched foundations and grants that might help fund his dream vacation, but Francis never qualified, even as his health declined.
Then, last year, The Lutheran Home Association Foundation began a new program called “Inspirational Moments,” funded by the proceeds of the Foundation’s 2011 Annual Charity Golf Classic. This program was created to fulfill the wishes of people The Lutheran Home Association serves by coordinating opportunities for groups and individuals to reach their goals. Applicants are selected based on their needs and other factors. After a health scare earlier this year, Administrator Debra Wilbright and Program Manager Judy Vogel increased their efforts to help Francis meet Mickey, resulting in “Inspirational Moments” choosing to help fund his dream vacation.
Denise Venner, the Director of Nursing, researched different options and found an open spot in a group trip in December 2011, and the Hope Residence staff informed Francis he was going to meet Mickey. “At first, I don’t think he believed it. Then, he was ecstatic,” said Vogel.
Francis and Denise traveled together to Florida. Their first stop was to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie. “I love him [Mickey] so much, I hugged him like crazy,” Francis said. They also visited Epcot Center, went to the parade, enjoyed rides and bought souvenirs.
“I enjoyed it so much; it was a lot of fun,” says Francis. He also wishes to thank all those who made this trip possible. Denise adds, “What I enjoyed most was seeing Francis’ dream come true—the smile on his face was priceless.”