Edward Reis was passionate about all things nature. As a former forest ranger, he loved nothing more than being outdoors. But in 2008, everything changed. Reis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), which left him bedridden. He was eventually moved into Evergreen Hospice, an adult nursing home in Washington state.
Three days a week, a registered nurse named Leigh came to visit Reis and provided him with hospice care. Over time, the two formed a strong bond.
So when Leigh heard that Reis wished to go outside just one more time, she knew she needed to find a way to make that happen.
Leigh contacted the Snohomish County Fire District 1 and asked if they could help make Reis’ dying wish come true.
Scroll down to find out what happened next. You won’t be disappointed.
This is Leigh Gardner, a registered nurse case manager with Evergreen Health Hospice in Kirkland, WA.
A couple years back, Gardner visited and cared for one of her favourite hospice patients three days a week, every week.
Gardner’s patient was Edward Reis, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2008. MS is a debilitating autoimmune disease that eventually left him bedridden.
Before his diagnosis, Reis worked as a forest ranger who loved nature and the outdoors more than anything.
Gardner described Reis as a “gentle, gentle soul.”
In 2014, Reis told Hospice Chaplain Curt Huber that all he wanted was to go outside one more time.
Huber told Gardner, who contacted the Snohomish County Fire District 1 and asked if they could help.
The firefighters agreed.
On March 26, 2014, firefighters arrived at Evergreen Hospice, loaded Reis into their firetruck, and headed off to grant his final wish.
Reis was taken on a three-hour outdoor excursion in Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds, WA.
The firefighters and hospice volunteers led Reis up and down the trails. He was able to smell the fresh air and hear the sounds of the birds chirping and leaves rustling. The group even put their hands up to his face so he could smell the bark and flowers they would touch.
Reis’ heart was full again.
It’s unknown whether Reis ever married, had children, or even had family members at all.
In the end, Gardner said she and the firefighters became his family.
Shane Cooper is a firefighter and community resource paramedic who was among the group accompanying Reis that day.
Cooper says Reis couldn’t speak much but forming words to describe the nature surrounding him.
“That made it all worthwhile,” Cooper told ABC. “That’s a highlight of my career. I’ve been here for 25 years, and that’ll stay one of the highlights.”
“The wheels of a gurney are like a shopping cart, so very small wheels on a trail — and it wasn’t like one of those little running trails at all, it was like a hiking trail… And we would stop every so often, and he would just sit and listen,” Gardner told ABC.
“And you know, I went over to him, and I said, ‘Are you happy?’ He’s like, ‘I’m so happy.’”
Not long after his final trip outdoors, Reis passed away.
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