Don’s Alaska DaySeptember 14, 2015 | Courtyards at River Park
Resident Don’s daughter, Laura, was in tears because her father had just received a terminal diagnosis of cancer. Laura had not seen or spoken to her father in years and she was incredibly overcome with guilt, sadness and regret. Don refused to move closer to Laura if it meant leaving his German Shepard, Ronin, behind. He resided at the Courtyards at River Park in Fort Worth, Texas.
Not long after his diagnosis, Don and Ronin began sharing a studio apartment in our Parkview building. After a few weeks it was apparent that Ronin could no longer be properly cared for by Don. Knowing how much Ronin meant to Don, Laura and the community did not want to see him have to be surrendered to a humane society. Instead, he became the entire community’s dog (for better or worse) to allow Don continued companionship.
One day, business office manager, Kelly Hatter, overheard Don talking to his daughter about his regrets – one being that he had never traveled to Alaska. The Courtyards at River Park decided to make that dream come true.
Some highlights of Alaska Day at the Courtyards? An igloo from cardboard boxes was constructed, and Sara Palin (his Alaskan dream girl) sent a signed copy of her book with a Sara Palin cut out for him.
An Alaskan day wouldn't be complete without penguins so after a few phone calls, the Dallas Zoo agreed to generously donate a few friendly friends. Also donated was an ice sculpture of salmon jumping out of the river, and of course snow. The snow was ordered from Michigan, but at the last minute it had to be rerouted due to the northern snow storm. Staff jumped on Twitter to make a plea for a snow machine – the radio announced this for Don and at 1 AM the morning of Don's Alaska day, the Courtyards had their snow machine.
Little did everyone realize it would actually end up snowing the next morning…only in Texas. Even more surprisingly, they learned that it was also the day of his wife’s birthday. It was a huge success and Don was incredibly happy and moved that day. He ended up passing away exactly one month later.
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