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Fields of dreams: JourneyCare grants patients’ wishes to see Cubs, Sox

Some of Bill DePyssler’s best memories were spent cheering at Chicago White Sox games with his dad, John, at Comiskey Park.

JourneyCare patient John Depyssler, center, with his granddaughter Michelle Bellair and her husband, Matt, and his brother, Bill Depyssler.

The last time they sat in that ballpark, John was 96 years old.

“I thought that would be our last White Sox game together,” Bill recalled.

Ann Scully, Willow Falls resident care services coordinator, and John.

Today, John is 100 years old and lives at Willow Falls Senior Living in Crest Hill, a JourneyCare partner agency, where he remains devoted to watching his favorite team on TV for nearly every game.

To do something special for this milestone year, John’s JourneyCare care team and staff from Crest Hill worked together to seek tickets for him and some family members to watch their beloved White Sox once more.

They collaborated with JourneyCare Foundation President Joe Matty – himself a devoted White Sox fan – to secure tickets. Matty and the Foundation team were not only able to score tickets, but the White Sox offered to honor John for his service in World War II; he would be recognized as the Hero of the Game in the middle of third inning at the June 24 game vs. the Oakland A’s.

John attended the game with Bill, his granddaughter Michelle Bellair and her husband, Matt, along with Willow Falls staff. During the Hero of the Game on field recognition, John received a standing ovation from nearly 40,000 fans in attendance and was presented a special pin commemorating his military service by Darryl Boston, White Sox first base coach. The ceremony was also broadcast live on the White Sox Jumbotron.

Upon returning to his seat, John was greeted by a steady stream of fans, who stopped by and thanked him for his service to the country.

Over and over, John repeated with awe, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

 

***

 

Keith Powell, 59, had been estranged from his family for decades.

Keith Powell and his family in the Chicago Cubs skybox

When his laryngeal cancer returned after being in remission for five years, Keith knew it was finally time to reconnect with his family, especially his now-adult son and daughter.

This second bout with cancer took away Keith’s ability to speak, and he now communicated through pen and paper. So, he wrote a note asking his JourneyCare team for help in reaching out to his family and inviting them back in his life.

The team successfully reconnected Keith with his brother, Tim, and his ex-wife, Maureen. Yet, something was missing.

Keith uses his notepad to comment on the game with his son, Kevin.

That’s when JourneyCare Social Worker Barbara Mistele asked Keith to start thinking about his end-of-life goals and he fondly recalled his family’s shared love for the Chicago Cubs, asking if he could somehow attend a game with them. After some searching, Mistele found a family willing to donate their suite for a May 18 game.

Thanks to the JourneyCare Foundation’s Comfort & Joy program, Keith was taken to the game in an ambulance and was accompanied by two JourneyCare nurses to ensure his health needs were cared for during this special day.

Keith Powell

Along with him, nine family members that included Tim and his family, Maureen, their son Kevin Powell and his fiancée, Cassie, headed to a Wrigley Field suite on the first base side to watch the Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds.

A JourneyCare’s Marketing & Communications team worked to document the memories and later created scrapbooks of photos for the family.

The day ended with Keith’s family buying him a souvenir Cubs T-shirt to commemorate this important experience together.

When Keith died a few weeks later, the Cubs game was on his TV … and his favorite team won.

 

– By Lisa Encarnacion, JourneyCare Media Relations and Public Affairs Manager
Originally published in Together to Care, Issue 2, 2017

 

 

 

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