Granting Wishes to Terminally Ill Mothers
When their close friend Allyson Hendrickson was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Missy Phipps and Melissa Cary did what friends do—they reached out to help. However, their act of kindness spread far beyond Allyson.
Missy and Melissa, along with friends Holly Reed and Heather Bryan, created Ally’s Wish, a foundation that grants wishes to terminally ill mothers from across the country. And the first wish they granted was Allyson’s.
On March 31, 2014, Allyson wrote in her 3 Little Cowboys blog: “A few weeks ago, I met a group of friends for dinner. I had no idea why we were gathered, but I quickly found out that it wasn’t just to talk about hedgehogs, our kids and shampoo. No, they had something much bigger and more important. Something that made me forget for awhile that my life is not what I want it to be: Ally’s Wish is a new foundation put together by my amazing friends. The purpose of Ally’s Wish is to grant wishes for other mothers with terminal illness. Spread joy. Give hope! I cannot think of a more fantastic way for my legacy to live on,” she wrote. “… I am thrilled to tell you that my wish is for this blog to be published. I don’t necessarily want it to be on a shelf in every Barnes & Noble across America, but I want it to be published at least so that each of my boys can have a copy of their own—a way for them to remember that their mom loved them with every inch of her heart.”
Allyson lost her battle with cancer in July 2014. But her legacy lives on through Ally’s Wish, which has granted 77 wishes so far. More than 93 percent of the money the foundation raises through its annual Boots & Blessings Gala and other fundraisers goes toward granting wishes.
“We thought of what we would want if we were in these moms’ shoes, and it would be to make memories with our children,” Missy says.
To be granted a wish, mothers must have a note from their physician stating they are terminally ill. They must have at least one child younger than 18. And they must be healthy enough to travel.
Currently, Ally’s Wish is operated by Missy, Melissa and new board members Kelly Wolgamott and Nicole Notagiacomo. The foundation has grown so much that it now has a waiting list. Melissa says the foundation grants wishes according to need. Most wishes are for special family vacations.
However, two wishes granted this past December to two mothers in Dallas did not involve travel and were extremely emotional for all involved. Both of the mothers passed away within days of their wishes being granted.
“One mother was in a hospice facility,” Melissa says. “She told me she knew she couldn’t make it to her child’s 10th birthday party, so she wanted us to help plan her a party.”
Melissa says they threw a huge party at the hospice facility, complete with “big decorations, the biggest candy bar, a big cake, karaoke and presents.”
“Her daughter was so surprised. She said it was the best party she had ever had,” Melissa says.
Another mother wished for a special Christmas with her five children. So Ally’s Wish board members gave her an early Christmas celebration.
“We had a snow machine, Christmas dinner and carolers,” Missy says.
“She gave us a Christmas list, and we were able to give her kids gifts she wasn’t able to. And we took pictures of the family,” Melissa adds. “We got to get involved with those two wishes. It reminded us of why we do this.”
Though often heartbreaking, Missy and Melissa say granting wishes to terminally ill mothers has been extremely fulfilling work.
“God has provided. He has done immeasurably more with this than I thought could be done,” Missy says. “It’s so rewarding. It’s a blessing for us to get to do this.”