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Start Your Engine
Submitted by: Center for Hospice Care

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Start Your Engine

42-year-old Jennifer Dalkowski knew she was dying. “Before I die, I want to meet Jeff Gordon,” she said smiling. And so, the making of Jennifer’s dream come true began. Bob Tyler, CSW, was the social worker who was with Jennifer and her family when she shared her wish. “I’m truly impressed with this family’s love for each other,” he explained.  Bob worked with the Dream Foundation to secure Brickyard tickets and a hotel in Indianapolis for Jennifer and her family. So Jennifer had her ticket to the race in hand…but no guarantee of meeting Jeff. “I’m so happy they get to travel as a family to the Brickyard,” Tyler said. “They deserve this time together. And of course, I really hope Jennifer gets to meet Jeff.”

She and her family remained confident. “I have a strong will,” Jennifer explained. “Once I set my mind to something, I do it. I don’t stop until I do it.” Jennifer’s tenacity was contagious.  A true team effort ensued to make Jennifer’s dream a reality. Center for Hospice Care staff made multiple phone calls and reached out to their own friends and families…absolutely anyone who would possibly help bring Jennifer and Jeff together.

Jennifer’s condition was weakening and the July 29, 2012 Brickyard race in Indianapolis was getting close. Through We Believe, an employee giving program at Center for Hospice Care, funds to pay for an RV to transport Jennifer and her family were received. Hot Passes from Hoosier Tire and an inside tip from NASCAR Charter Club #573 on the best spot to be for a chance to meet Jeff all came together.  Jennifer and her family set out to realize Jennifer’s dream in style.

A couple weeks later, still reeling from the excitement of her first NASCAR experience and the fact that she did indeed meet Jeff Gordon, Jennifer’s symptoms were getting too difficult to manage at home. She was transported to the Elkhart Hospice House where she remained until her death on August 20.

“Jennifer took me aside,” her mom said, “and told me that she had made a deal with God. She told God that if she ended up meeting Jeff Gordon, that He could take her…that she would be ready. And she was.”

Jennifer died peacefully with her loving family surrounding her. This was Jennifer’s race. She was a winner, right to the final lap.

For more stories from Center for Hospice care, visit their Facebook Page.

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