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Included in the ride: kindness and the human connection

  • When Sandra Burton looks back on the summer of 2015, she recalls the grief of losing her husband, John. But she also recalls moments of grace, including some that inspired her to become a donor to Phillips Eye Institute Foundation.

    During that summer, John was nearing the end of his life after being treated for cancer over many years. He was losing weight and becoming weaker, but he had a strong desire to make one more visit to Ohio to visit his family. 

    At the same time, Sandra needed cataract surgery. Since John was unable to drive her, the couple was thankful that Phillips Eye Institute has a Transportation Service for its surgery and Low Vision Center patients. 

    Two surgeries were scheduled a few weeks apart in June. John rode along with Sandra for both. On one of the rides, John and the van driver discovered they both loved barbecue ribs, and they shared tips on their favorite restaurants. “The two of them really bonded,” recalled Sandra.

    The couple was able to travel to Ohio during the 4th of July holiday. John’s health deteriorated quickly afterward, and he died a few weeks later. His last outing before his death was to his favorite rib place.

    Months later, Sandra had another eye procedure scheduled and again used the Transportation Service. The driver remembered her. “He told me how sorry he was for my loss – and that he himself made excellent ribs and would have been happy to have made some for John,” said Sandra.

    “This was about so much more than getting a ride. It was the human connection,” said Sandra. The experience compelled her to make a donation and to include a note of gratitude with it: “I will never forget the kindness that was shown to both of us at this difficult time.”