CHICAGO/LIGONIER, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Avalon Village’s Make-A-Wish program honors one resident’s request to see the Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field one more time.
If you had one wish in life what would it be? For 88-year-old Leona Kiem, it's to see a Chicago Cubs game.
“I learned how to play baseball with them,” Leona said.
Leona was born in a psychiatric facility in Wisconsin and was abandoned at birth. She spent her childhood in and out of foster homes, serving others. In the 1950s, Leona’s long lost older sister, Betty, found her and she reunited with her and her two nieces in Ligonier. Leona currently lives in Avalon Village Senior Community in Ligonier where she helps out in the front office.
“She’s my best buddy,” Said Shelly Long, Business Office Manager. “She helps me file and she loves to clean so of course she has to dust and clean everything in there. She’s always beside me everyday.”
Since Leona has spent most of her life doing things for others, her family at Avalon Village is now giving back to her. Leona says she’s been to Cubs game before, but it was so long ago she can’t remember when it was.
“I don’t know it’s been some time. You’d have to figure it out,” said Leona.
“Leona wanted to come back to a Cubs game so badly, she hasn't been in years. So we do what we need to do to keep our residents happy and we wanted to make her wish come true,” said Jessica Sloane, Executive Director at Avalon Village.
When asked how she felt about going to a Cubs game, Leona responded, “Wooo!”
So Wednesday morning, Leona went around saying her goodbyes, they load up the bus, and it's off to Chicago. About three hours later they arrive at the historic Wrigley Field. When asked how she felt about being there, Leona said, “Wonderful,” with a huge smile on her face.
Making her way inside, Leona is nothing but smiles. After ice cream, receiving a goody bag from the Wrigley Field Ambassadors, and the Cubs winning their season closer 5 to 4 against the Houston Astros, Leona was glowing. “It was a good game,” she said.
Others were brought to tears over the experience.
“She never got this kind of stuff growing up so we're glad that we can do it for her,” said Long wiping away tears.
Wednesday was a true reflection of what a family really is.
“All I can tell you is that I love all these people. God's with me and he takes over,” Leona said.
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