Jeremy Bloom believes every senior has a dream, one thing in life that he or she has always wanted to experience. For many, the lack of financial means or social connections bars them from fulfilling these lifelong dreams, but his foundation, Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime, aims to fix that.
Bloom, a two-time Olympic skier and former NFL player, established the nonprofit as a way to honor, aid and give back to senior citizens for their many years of wisdom and service.
"My relationship with my 85-year-old grandmother and 88-year-old grandfather was the inspiration behind Wish of a Lifetime, and they continue to be the heart and soul driving our efforts," Bloom says.
The foundation's mission is simple: to grant lifelong wishes to deserving seniors.
"The unfortunate reality is that a large percentage of seniors live an isolated and lonely life," Bloom says. "In many cases, their loved ones don't visit and their siblings have passed on. Our organization aims to knock on their door and make them feel special and important by helping them fulfill their lifelong wishes."
Buzz, 97, for example, was a professional drummer in the 1930s. He suffered from severe Alzheimer's disease but never lost his passion for drumming. He longed to play with a dance band one more time, and with the foundation's help, that dream became a reality. About a month before he passed away, he took the stage with a local dance band to rekindle his days as a professional musician.
"It's not hard to see the challenges that seniors face on a daily basis," Bloom states on the foundation's website. "I believe many people regrettably move on from this world with unfilled dreams. I have been very fortunate in my own life to have had the ability and the resources to chase every dream that I have ever imagined, and I am delighted to start a foundation that will help others do the same."
When Phyllis, an 88-year-old avid bridge player, began to lose her eyesight and was unable to play bridge on her own, she sought to find a companion to assist her.
"Phyllis' wish was simple but remarkable. Phyllis passed away shortly after her wish was fulfilled, and her wish was so meaningful that it inspired her family to request that donations in lieu of flowers be sent to the foundation," Bloom says. "The fact that a wish granted by JBWOL inspired others to contribute to our cause, as well as the outpouring of support we received in honor of Phyllis, was truly heartwarming."
One of the most meaningful wishes the foundation granted, according to Bloom, was for a 65-year-old man suffering from diabetes. "Bill's wish was simply for a set of rugs so that when he woke up and went to the bathroom, his feet would not get cold. The simplicity of Bill's wish and the sheer joy he expressed when it was granted have stuck with the staff to this day. Bill's joy and happiness highlighted how seniors in our society have, in general, asked for very little throughout their lives and how the simplest act of kindness can make all the difference."
Seniors who are 65 or older are eligible to apply to have their wishes granted. To qualify, applicants must be legal residents or citizens of the U.S., be unable to fulfill their wish on their own and be in good enough health to experience the wish.
There is no financial limit for wishes. However, to be considered, an applicant's wish must meet certain requirements; the foundation will not grant requests for cash assistance, technology purchases, medical care, new homes or vehicle repair.
"The staff looks to grant wishes that will enrich the life of the senior on an emotional, physical and spiritual level," Bloom explains. "Additionally, the foundation grants wishes that will inspire others to shift their own views on seniors and aging."
In the past, Wish of a Lifetime has granted wishes to reconnect with loved ones, attend sporting events and participate in long-loved hobbies, such as riding horses, piloting planes, riding motorcycles and fishing.
To submit an application, volunteer, make a contribution or donate to a specific wish, visit http://www.SeniorWish.org.