Sequim family aims to give big trip to terminally ill woman: Disneyland with her grandchildren
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Lacy Thompson, left, her mother, Cheryl Ghere, and Ghere’s granddaughters Emma Blair, 2, right, and Olivia Thompson, 22 months, are preparing for a trip to Disneyland. — Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — A Sequim family is looking for help creating a set of special memories for their matriarch as she battles a terminal illness.

The family of Cheryl Ghere, who is an avid Walt Disney Company fan, wants to take the terminally ill 58-year-old mother and grandmother on one last time trip so she can see her grandchildren’s reactions to her favorite place on Earth — Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.

However, with little time remaining for Ghere to be healthy enough for the journey, they need help to quickly raise the funds.

So Ghere’s daughter Lacy Thompson, 24, with her sisters, Kelsey Blair and Lindsey Richardson, began an account at www.gofundme.com/6ydn6g to help raise the $7,000 cost of a trip for the 10 members of the family, including airfare, hotel and park passes.

Thompson said Sunday they had enough for the basic package, but there are other expenses associated with the trip, including food, airline fees and travel for 10 to SeaTac International Airport.

For those who would like to contribute, donations can be made in Ghere’s name at Sound Community Bank in Sequim or Port Angeles.

Ghere was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2011, and she had thought she had beaten the disease, Thompson said.

But a body scan during a routine checkup on Feb. 12 showed that the cancer had returned and spread, was not operable and unlikely to respond strongly to chemotherapy, Thompson said.

Doctors told Ghere that she had as little as 9 months to live and possibly up to 2 years with treatment.

“It came as a complete shock. She was feeling healthy,” Thompson said.

The family wanted to do something special. It had to involve Disneyland, which has been a cherished place for Ghere since childhood.

“Disneyland to me is the epitome of all that is childhood and magic and fun. You forget everything else while you are there,” Ghere said.

Ghere said her first trip to Disneyland was in 1976, and in 2009, she drove the Sequim High School band equipment truck for a band performance at the park.

“My mom watches the Los Angeles news practically every morning just to catch a glimpse of the Disneyland castle on a sunny California day,” Thompson said.

“It’s inevitable: For most birthdays or Christmas, our mother gives us something to do with Disney,” she added.

Taking Ghere to see the Disneyland castle once more, to share that experience with her young grandchildren, seemed to be the perfect way to make some new memories while there is still time, she said.

The youngest members of the family, Emma Blair and Olivia Thompson, both about 2 years old, will be too young to remember the upcoming trip, but the rest of the family will have the memories — and the photos — of Ghere sharing her passion with her grandchildren.

“Her biggest wish is to see her newest grandchildren’s faces when they see Mickey Mouse for the first time,” Thompson said.

Ghere will begin chemotherapy soon to try to slow the cancer’s spread, but the life-extending treatment will make it difficult to travel.

“She doesn’t want to go to Disneyland with no hair and in a wheelchair, looking for a garbage can to throw up in,” she said.

Ghere volunteered for years as a classroom helper at Helen Haller Elementary and organized the very first Family Fun Night.

Later, she became the school’s “lunch lady” for 11 years, then worked at the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula as the finance director until 2012.

She had to stop then because of neuropathy in her hands and feet from the effects of chemo and radiation.

“She was very involved in the Sequim High School Band Boosters while my sister and I were in high school,” Thompson said.

“We all went to Disneyland three times during our years in band for the Magic Music Days, and of course, she led the fundraising for that.”

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 02. 2014 6:42PM
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