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Terminally ill woman and family await donations to take dream trip


Posted on: 06/12/2002

Terminally ill woman and family await donations to take dream trip

By MATT MERKEL-HESS
The Kansas City Star

An organization that helps terminally ill adults fulfill their dreams hopes to send Paula Bass and her family to Walt Disney World.

Bass, of Kansas City, has a malignant brain tumor, which was diagnosed in January. She has been approved for a trip with the Dream Foundation, an 8-year-old organization that helps terminally ill adults 18-65 with their final wishes.

Bass, 47, and her family are waiting for donations of frequent-flier miles that will make the trip possible, said her husband, Randy Bass, 42.

The organization has scheduled the trip for July 1 but at this point has no miles donated for the family. Tickets for the family of four will require about 100,000 frequent-flier miles.

"My wife has always been a Mickey Mouse fanatic," Randy Bass said. "Plus we've never really been anywhere or done much of anything, and this would be something that would mean a whole lot to her."

In February, doctors gave Bass two to four months to live. Now she can communicate only with simple words and head movements, and her memory is fading, her husband said. Before the trip, a medical professional will have to certify that Bass is well enough to travel.

After checking with organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Randy Bass was directed to the Dream Foundation, based in Santa Barbara, Calif. The organization is the only nationwide agency that grants "dreams" to terminally ill adults, said Carol Brown, executive director.

The organization works on 40 to 45 dreams a month, and its biggest challenge is gathering donations of money and frequent-flier miles, Brown said. Eighty percent of the dreams involve travel, and Walt Disney World is one of the most popular destinations.

"We don't have the budget to buy airline tickets, so we rely on the kindness and generosity of individuals to donate frequent-flier miles," she said.

Gathering those miles has become more difficult since airlines phased out expiration dates on frequent-flier miles about two years ago, Brown said.

Though many of the dreams involve travel, the organization also sets up celebrity visits and family reunions. In one case it reunited a man with his cat, Brown said.

Bill Duke, 63, runs a Dream Foundation satellite office out of his kitchen in Leesburg, Fla., where he coordinates trips to Walt Disney World.

Most of the dreams he works with involve young parents trying to create positive memories for their children, Duke said.

For a Disney World trip, the foundation arranges five nights in a hotel, transportation and money for meals. It also provides passes to Disney World and Universal Studios or SeaWorld, Duke said.

Randy Bass said he hoped donations would come through for a trip for his wife, daughter Anna, 17, and son Charles, 12.

"It's something that she would love -- to see our kids go down there and do this thing," he said. "As you can tell, we're on borrowed time already. If this is going to work, it's got to be real soon."

To reach Matt Merkel-Hess, call (816) 234-4337 or send e-mail to mmerkel-hess@kcstar.com.

How to help:

For more information or to donate to the Dream Foundation, contact the organization at (805) 564-2131, or online at www.dreamfoundation.org. The mailing address is The Dream Foundation, 621 Chapala St. Suite D, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. You can specify that your donation go to Paula Bass' dream, or you can donate to the foundation's general fund.


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