Roger Griffith’s love for the smell of burning rubber goes way back. As a former drag racer, he always dreamed of driving or riding in NASCAR. However, with cancer slowly consuming his body, he thought that life-long wish had come to a screeching halt.
Last summer, surrounded by over 40 family members and friends, some from as far as Texas, the Prescott, Kansas resident’s dream came true. As the first recipient of the Mercy Wishes program, he was able to take part in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Kansas Speedway.
“The whole situation was unbelievable,” Griffith said. At top speed of 170 mph, “It really took my breath away. It was a great ride; smooth, fun and fast.”
“My dad was like a kid in a candy store,” said Chris Middleton, Griffith’s daughter.
“Positive energy filled the entire day,” Middleton continued. “He was overwhelmed to physically be in the places where the public is not allowed… to walk the checked line, touch the track, be where the pit crew works, tour Victory Lane and the medic area. The staff at Richard Petty Driving Experience was top-notch. They were incredibly helpful and patient.”
“But none of this would have been possible without the Mercy Hospice team,” added Middleton.
The idea to make Griffith’s dream come true began when the Mercy Hospice team recognized clues during their regular visits to his home.
Wanda Ogle, RN, noticed, “His TV is always tuned to NASCAR.”
“And the flames on his pants were another tip,” laughed Kim Goff, Mercy Hospice nurse manager.
“We shared our vision to fulfill Roger’s dream with his family,” said social worker LaShawn Miller. “They embraced the idea and completely ran with it.”
Ogle explained, “One goal of hospice care is to assist the patient and their family in preparing for another part of life’s journey. There should be nothing sad about this whole experience. Roger was able to live his dream surrounded by family and friends. That is exactly how one should want to complete their life.”
The Mercy Wishes program allows terminally ill hospice patients to make a request or last wish that they desire. Currently Mercy Hospice memorial funds support the program as well as other emergency needs hospice patients. Soon, Mercy Hospice will launch a separate Mercy Wishes campaign.
“The biggest hugs go out to the Mercy Hospice team,” Griffith said. “I love them all. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
As Griffith and his family prepare for his final earthly lap when the checkered flag is waved, there is comfort.
“I’ve never had to deal with death before,” shared Middleton. “Thanks to the experience with Mercy Hospice, I will not have one ounce of regret when my dad passes. There is no doubt that everything was done for him.”
View more information about the Mercy Wishes program.
Download the Works of Mercy pledge form.