Wo­man’s sym­phony wish is granted

Foun­da­tion ful­fills end-of-life dreams

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - The Region - By Jeremy Reynolds

Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

Up un­til a dozen years ago, Mar­i­lyn Cramer played the French horn in the John­stown Sym­phony.

Now, Ms. Cramer is 85 years old and uses a wheel­chair. A res­i­dent at Orion Per­sonal Care Res­i­dence in Hamp­ton, she has de­men­tia and Parkin­son’s dis­ease. A re­cent stroke has fur­ther lim­ited her abil­ity to speak.

On Satur­day, Ms. Cramer at­tended the Pitts­burgh Sym­phony Orches­tra’s an­nual gala, thanks to the Dream Foun­da­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to ful­fill­ing the end-of-life dreams of ter­mi­nally ill adults with less than a year to live.

“We wanted to do some­thing spe­cial for her,” said Brandi Bankston, ad­min­is­tra­tor of Orion Per­sonal Care Home. Ms. Bankston planned to at­tend the con­cert with Ms. Cramer as well as Cindy Toy, an­other care­taker at Orion. “She doesn’t vo­cal­ize much, but when we told her that we were tak­ing her to the sym­phony she lit up the room with the big­gest smile.”

Sev­eral months ago, Amedisys, a home hospice or­ga­ni­za­tion, rec­om­mended Ms. Cramer for hospice care be­cause of her di­ag­noses with se­nile de­gen­er­a­tion and Parkin­son’s. In July, her care­givers con­tacted the Dream Foun­da­tion.

The Dream Foun­da­tion, based in Santa Bar­bara, Calif., has worked with more than 27,000 fam­i­lies since it was founded in 1993. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son for the foun­da­tion, dreams vary con­sid­er­ably, but they honor re­quests to spend an evening at the sym­phony, the opera or the the­ater fairly of­ten.

The foun­da­tion also pur­chased an evening gown and ac­ces­sories for Ms. Cramer and rented a limou­sine to trans­port her to the sym­phony at Heinz Hall.

Other dreams ful­filled in Al­legheny County in 2017 have in­cluded a re­cip­i­ent see­ing a brother one last time for lunch; get­ting a trip to Ocean City, Md.; and at­tend­ing a Green Bay Pack­ers game at

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