Opinion: Recalling wishful thinking at WISH-TV

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My friend Bob Haverstick founded an organization in 2001 known as Never Too Late, which granted some 2,000 final wishes to senior citizens over a period of a dozen years. I had the honor of showcasing many of these requests being fulfilled on my WISH-TV segments. Here are some of my favorites:

Albert and Esther fell for each other 60 years earlier. Now, they were going to fall with each other, skydiving for their 60th anniversary — both tethered to a professional diver. Albert and Esther landed within moments of each other. I ran over with a microphone to get their reactions.

“Make sure you ask both of us,” Esther said. “I can hardly see anything, and Albert can hardly hear anything.”

In her late 70s, things were slowing down for Eloise and she wanted one last chance to do something racy. Her request was to barrel down the track at Indianapolis Raceway Park in a dragster. On live TV, Eloise got in the back of a two-seater car, buckled her harness and off she went at 170 mph. Seconds later, she crossed the finish line.  I assumed that was going to be one of the highlights of her life, but she looked disappointed.

“How was it?” I asked.

“Well,” she huffed, “I thought I was going to drive.”

Jimmy Dunham was an Indianapolis 500 mechanic (in his day, mechanics rode with the driver) but Jimmy had not been to a race since he and driver Kelly Petillo were victorious in 1935. In 2005, Never Too Late flew Jimmy and family in from California to see the race. Prior to the start, Jimmy studied the field and correctly predicted Dan Weldon would cross the finish line first. So, for the second time in 70 years, Jimmy Dunham was a winner,

Paul and Georgia were celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary. They were both 100 years old and Paul had been a fan of my segments.

“I’ve been watching you since I was a little boy,” he said when he met me. 

They were both lucid, but Georgia had been experiencing some memory loss. During the interview, Paul disclosed the key to their long marriage: “We have never had a fight in 80 years.” Hearing that, Georgia responded:

“And they think I’m the one with Alzheimer’s.”  

Anna, who was turning 100, requested to meet me in person. I went to her 100th birthday celebration at a square dance. Then, I went to her 101st birthday, then 102nd, 103rd, 104th and 105th — where she whispered in my ear, “This is too tiring for me. Let’s just do it every three years.”


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