ORLANDO LEGACY RETREAT
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to volunteer at a Legacy Retreat with Inheritance of Hope (IoH). IoH is an organization that works with families facing terminal illness. They provide emotional and spiritual support to families navigating the hardship of sickness and loss.
One of IoH’s signature offerings is their life-changing Legacy Retreats. These retreats are all-expense paid experiences where families are able to create lifelong memories and receive tools to navigate the challenges of dealing with terminal illness.
I was invited to volunteer and participate in their Orlando retreat from March 9 - 12. I was there as a photographer and also trying to experience as much of the retreat as possible.
Going into the retreat, I knew there was a large team working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this retreat a success. Sure enough, as soon as we arrived at the Renaissance Hotel, before check-in some of the staff and volunteers were unpacking and moving things in, getting everything ready for the retreat.
One of the first things I noticed about the IoH team is their tight-knit community, the IoH Family. From the very first to the last person that welcomed me, I was welcomed not as a stranger but as a family member they hadn’t recently seen and were anticipating reconnecting with.
At this retreat, IoH staff and volunteers were serving 16 different families. The families were from all over the nation; some drove in from as far as Maryland and others flew in from around the Midwest and other southern states. The Legacy Retreats provide very intentional times for the families to get to know one another and also to become acquainted with IoH’s vision and mission.
The day we visited Sea World Orlando, I got to tag along with the Mueller family and two volunteers, Rusty and Jon. Rusty has a great heart for all of these families, and Jon’s family was served by IoH at a previous retreat and is now back serving as a volunteer. This day was full of fun moments and lasting memories for the Mueller family. I was able to capture some important heartwarming moments that will forever be cherished by this family.
Going into the Orlando retreat, I wanted to serve and as much as possible help where needed. I never thought about how this retreat could help me. As some of you know, my mother-in-law Kim is facing her own cancer journey (she is currently in remission!). This time has been a season of unknowns and adjustments for our family, and a lot of relying on God and entrusting Kim’s life to Him through prayer. I never anticipated that playing a role at this retreat could help me deal with some of the emotions that I hadn’t dealt with. I feel that after the retreat, I’m in a better place to navigate this journey with my wife and keep supporting our family through it all.
The Legacy Retreat was not only physically but spiritually and emotionally draining, but it is one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I’m thankful that I got the opportunity to serve alongside many very generous and selfless people who, through serving families together, also impacted me.