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Home Runs for Hospice Hits It Out of the Park

Going to the ballpark usually means sitting back in the stands, relaxing and watching your favorite team take the field. You cheer when the rookie pitches a smoking fastball that blows by the first batter to log his first-ever strikeout. Or maybe you cry tears of joy in witnessing a walk-off grand slam home run for your team, which allows them to make the playoffs after a drought of too many years to count. For attendees of the second annual Home Runs for Hospice at George M. Steinbrenner Field (the New York Yankees home for spring training), their trip to the park was quite a different and unique experience.

What is Home Runs for Hospice?

home runs for hopsiceHome Runs for Hospice is a breakfast event organized by Chapters Health System to educate the community about how LifePath Hospice provides care and support for patients and families who are in need of compassion. The mission of LifePath Hospice — as well as Good Shepherd Hospice and HPH Hospice —  is to provide people in our community, with or affected by advanced illness, the opportunity to access a variety of compassionate healthcare choices no matter what their financial circumstances might be.

Over the last 35 years, the community has come to depend on LifePath Hospice to assist with end-of-life care. As the first speaker at Home Runs for Hospice, Andrew Molosky, president and chief executive officer for Chapters Health System shared, “Championing events like Home Runs for Hospice and making donations throughout the year help support the minds, bodies and spirits of our patients and their families — especially in the form of grief counseling, which is considered an otherwise unfunded program.”

In 2017, LifePath Hospice provided one-on-one grief counseling for 1,227 bereaved family members, and 1,636 grieving hearts found comfort in support groups offered by the Circle of Love Center.

“In addition to grief support, we provided $1.7 million in unfunded care last year alone. People count on us — people like Aaron,” continued Andrew. “Here’s his story.”

At the age of 57, Aaron lost his wife and three months later his mom died. Not long after these tragic events, Aaron also became unemployed and therefore could no longer afford his rent. His pick-up truck became his home. During an unusually cold January and failing health due to aggressive cancer, he asked the Melech Hospice House to take care of him. 

Flooded with visits from friends during the day, Aaron would disappear for hours in the evening.  A search each night found him back in his pick-up truck. And here’s the reason: His most prized possession – his wife’s ashes – was in his truck. By being in close proximity to her ashes, Aaron felt her presence. In his days at the hospice house, he found a new family in the staff. It did not matter that Aaron was too young for Medicare and too poor for private insurance, the staff cared for him like he was their own family. Aaron passed away peacefully from this earth with love and dignity.                                                                                                                                 

Words from the Heart

From butterfly kisses and little league games to family dinners, these are types of moments that make life rich. Each day is an opportunity to make memorable moments: to laugh, hold the hand of someone you love or fulfill a final wish. During the Home Runs for Hospice program,  the speakers’ stories helped every attendee understand completely how important it is to take advantage of every moment life offers us.

The program opened with former LifePath Hospice chaplain Guy Glass. Here’s a story about a patient who made a profound impact on Chaplain Glass’ life and his philosophy about making moments matter.

home runs for hospiceYears ago, I had a special patient, Mr. Steven Williams, who lived in a poor part of Tampa. There was no doubt he was poor, very poor. For his entire life, Mr. Williams never had the best of anything. In fact, he had a pretty rough existence. It was around Thanksgiving 2011 when I dropped by to see Mr. Williams in the morning, and his decline shocked me. I knew that day there wasn’t much time left so I asked him one of our big questions,“Mr. Williams, do you have any unfinished business we need to take care of at this point in your journey?” He became really quiet. I could see the wheels turning and spinning in his mind. And then, Mr. Williams looked at me, and his eyes suddenly twinkled. He said, “Chap, there are more fish out there to catch, and I’m running out of time to catch them. Before my life is done here, I want one more fishing trip. Just one…a real one, I want a good one. I want a boat. I want a lake. I want to catch a few more fish, and then I can graduate and go fishing in heaven.”

At that moment, I caught and felt his dream. I got it. We shared a moment. We jumped to action. I said to Mr. Williams, “Let’s make this happen.”

Mr. Williams spent a day filled with fishing joy on Lake Tarpon around Christmas 2011, and he caught some fish. Mission accomplished. It was a moment: A dying, old man’s dream came true. Joy is that mystery that awakens in us when we seize moments and live beyond ourselves.

Due to the generosity of LifePath Hospice and its benefactors, I was able to give Mr. Williams the very best care at the end of his life. Together, we gave him the ability to make the best of every single moment.

Mr. Williams taught Chaplain Glass valuable lessons: Seize every moment to the fullest and live for a dream beyond yourself. Find a light in making the lives and dreams of others come true. Remember what matters most at the end of our lives is that our lives matter. Really matter.

Metaphorically speaking, each and every one of us can find our own Mr. Williams and make sure he gets to go fishing one more time. Together, we can make moments happen.

There are many more stories of how LifePath Hospice impacted patients and families, which will be shared in future blogs.

At Chapters Health System and its affiliatesGood Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to info@chaptershealth.org.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

Support from Our Home Runs for Hospice Sponsors

Special thanks to the Home Runs for Hospice sponsors listed below. Due to their generosity, 100 percent of the financial investments made at the event will go toward any unmet or unfunded needs at LifePath Hospice. And like all good investments, this one comes with an expected return: compassionate end-of-life care for the needy and bereavement support for grieving hearts of any age.

Word Series Sponsor

home runs for hospice
Regions Bank

Grand Slam Sponsors

home runs for hospice
Cushman & Wakefield

The Gertrude Spear McGrew Trust

home runs for hospice
PAR, Inc.

home runs for hospice
Tampa Bay Lightning

Major League Sponsors

home runs for hospice
Caspers Company

The Lowry Murphey Family Foundation

Triple Play Sponsors

AmeriCare Ambulance Company

Richard & Valarie Blau

Anne & Mike Carney

DeBartolo Family Foundation

Dave Finkel

Friendly Smiles Dental Care

HealthSmart Benefit Solution  

J.O. Delotto & Sons, Inc.

Andrew & Amberly Molosky

Dennis Olden

Prida, Guida & Perez, P.A.

Cliff & Suzette Rhoades

Sabal Trust

Seacoast Bank

Patty J. Sharrock

Wallace Welch & Willingham

Jim Wurdeman

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