Cancer patient takes flight, fulfills bucket list dream

6:49 PM, Jul 22, 2010   |    comments
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  • A hospice patient gets his final wish to fly in a hot air balloon.
  • Hospice patient gets final wish to fly in a hot air balloon.
  • Hospice patient gets final wish to fly in hot air balloon.

Jenkins, who recently watched the film, "The Bucket List," was taken by the story's message of living life to its fullest. While his life was already filled with a gamut of remarkable stories sailing with the Navy during World War II and designing bridges with the Department of Transportation, everything changed when he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

There was still one more story he wanted to write: John wanted to fly in a hot air balloon.

Raising two girls was an adventure. His three grandkids and six great-grandchildren have been nothing short of a blessing to him. This adventure was about them as much as it was about John.

Denver Hospice heard his story and pitched it to Fantasy Balloons, a company that specializes in hot air balloon journeys. Along with his family and his friends at Denver Hospice, John traveled to the Chatfield Reservoir early one bright morning to take to the sky. You could hear the excitement in his tired voice.

"I will look down on all you folks and say, 'Sorry you can't come with me,'" he said.

During John's first trip to Chatfield Reservoir, the sky looked perfect for him. Unfortunately, the wind was too much to handle for Fantasy Balloons to take the risk of taking off.

One week later, the weather was perfect and the wind was just right. John's flight could finally happen.

As the balloon took off, John's eyes were set on the bright blue sky. His eyes were filled with color as the balloon sailed hundreds of feet into the air.

"You can't believe how serene... you can see everything for miles," John said. "To be truthful, after this, nothing could beat this. Once in a lifetime... absolutely perfect."

A few days later, John died in the care of Denver Hospice. His relatives, who were all looking on during John's final flight, were all witnesses to the final chapter of John's story.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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