Janesville70.9°

Janesville man getting second chance to fulfill dream

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Catherine W. Idzerda
June 24, 2011
— Peter Shippy couldn’t believe it.

There, in his living room, were two dozen people who had come to give him amazing news: He was going to Disney World.


He looked around his familiar living room, taking in the balloons, the strangers wearing mouse ears and all of his smiling friends.


Shippy just couldn’t believe it.


When the news sunk in that his dream was going to become a reality, his legs felt shaky, and he had to sit in his recliner.


Then Bill Kaufmann, a sales rep of Genentech and a volunteer for the Dream Foundation, awarded Shippy his dream: a trip to Disney World, tickets to Sea World and Universal Studios, restaurant gift cards, hotel accommodations and spending money.


The Dream Foundation also provided tickets, accommodations and restaurant cards for Shippy’s friend and former caregiver, Sandy Borck.


Throughout the presentation, Shippy kept saying, “I just don’t know what I could do without you guys.”


He told his friends and caregivers he loved them with such sincerity even the strangers in his home were moved to tears.


Then, after photos with the Genentech volunteers and their families, the excitement of being with his friends, the magnitude of it all hit him hard, and Shippy began to cry.


Considering all Shippy has been through, those tears aren’t a surprise.


Shippy, 40, is a resident of a Riverfront Adult Home on Janesville’s east side. The home, which he shares with two others, bears his particular stamp. His bingo prizes rest on top of the television cabinet. A collection of photos in a poster-sized frame features him posing in and around a semitrailer truck.


Shippy has spent most of his life in group homes because of multiple diagnoses, including cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.


But his considerable charm and wry humor have earned him a large and varied circle of friends.


In 2007, when Shippy was living in another group home, he and fellow residents had a chance to go to Disney World.


Then, just days before he was set to got, Shippy was diagnosed with colon cancer and was unable to go on the trip.


He was crushed. Miserable. Inconsolable.


“He never stopped talking about it,” said Shanon Caballero, who works with Shippy at Riverfront. “My trip to Disney World, my trip to Disney World, my trip to Disney World.”


Shippy’s cancer has metastasized to his lungs.


Caballero decided to write to the Dream Foundation, a nonprofit based in Santa Barbara, Calif., that provides wishes to adults with life-limiting illness.


“Ever since Peter missed that trip years ago, all he talks about is going to Disney World and riding around in a golf cart,” Caballero wrote in her letter to the Dream Foundation. “He just lights up at the thought of Mickey Mouse.”


On Thursday, when the crowd in his living room shouted, “You’re going to Disney World!” Shippy promptly said, “Not again!”


No, “not again.”


This time, Shippy will make his dream trip.



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