Florida Teen Gets His Final Wish: Thousands of Christmas Cards
When VITAS patient Nicholas Black wished to attend a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) match in Tampa, Florida, his VITAS care team made it happen.
Nicholas, 16, was a pediatric hospice patient with VITAS in Volusia County. He had Arnold-Chiari Malformation without spina bifida or hydrocephalus, a diagnosis that rendered him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak or use his hands and arms.
Wrestling was Nicholas’ favorite pastime: the physicality, theatrics, and costumes captivated him. Nicholas’ mom said his situation was deteriorating—she didn’t think he would survive past the holiday season.
Attending a wrestling match was his last wish.
VITAS team members take pride in providing comfort and joy near the end of life, whether that’s taking someone to a wrestling match, helping them visit the beach one final time, or even letting them enjoy a whole new experience through virtual reality.
“Honoring these special moments makes my work so rewarding,” says VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Tina Ford.
Organizing an Outpouring of Christmas Cheer
With the support and care of his family and his dedicated VITAS team, Nicholas made it to Christmas. That prompted his mother to make another wish on his behalf.
“She told us that he wanted as many Christmas cards as possible sent to him,” says Tina. “His mother also had a Facebook page created through the nonprofit organization Bianca’s Kids for Nicholas’ wish to receive cards.”
Tina, along with VITAS Nurse Beverly Evans and the rest of the team, sprang into action. They spread Nicholas’ wish throughout the surrounding communities to make his final Christmas wish come true.
“The response was so incredible that I decided to go even further,” Tina explains. “I reached out to our local fire departments to deliver the cards. Nicholas received over 2,000 wonderful Christmas cards!”
He couldn’t open the cards himself, so his mom sat by his bedside to read each and every joyous holiday message to him.
As he saw the significant amount of love pour in, his mother described his reaction as pure excitement and happiness.
“It simply warmed our hearts to grant him this,” says Tina.
Exactly one month to the day after the cards were delivered, Nicholas passed away. Tina believes he’s now “one of the beautiful angels watching over us.”
“As volunteer service manager, I get the chance to make a difference in someone’s life,” she says. “At the end of the day, I know I’ve done something good. I’ve touched a life at one of the most vulnerable and difficult times, [and] I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.”