Tidewell Hospice supporters gathered for a better late than never luncheon on April 1. Hundreds of supporters attended the luncheon for Tidewell Hospice, which was the 13th annual event.
Like many events, the luncheon was delayed due to the pandemic, so Tidewell had not yet celebrated their connection with Empath Health that occurred in March 2021. With that merger, Tidewell and Empath Health now serve more than 14,000 patients in a wider area with full life care. Most of the services are supported by donors like those at the luncheon.
President and CEO Jonathan Fleece spoke about the importance of connection, while Debbie Mason spoke about the programs and therapy options for Tidewell Hospice patients. Music therapist Jasmine Ridge performed a song that she wrote with a couple who had been married for 74 years, bringing everything from their first dance in high school to the first time they ate hot dogs with sauerkraut into the melody. The luncheon's finale was keynote speaker Henry Winkler.
"Just as the Fonz was connected to the Cunninghams in 'Happy Days,' you can rest assured Tidewell and Empath Health and our services will always be by your side," Fleece said.
Winkler took the stage to a standing ovation from the crowd. His presentation focused on struggles he's faced throughout his life, including his diagnosis with dyslexia and the ridicule he faced. He was called stupid and told he would never amount to anything, but has had a four-decade career as an Emmy-winning actor and has written more than 35 children's books. Though Winkler came as the keynote speaker, he appreciated the impact of Tidewell's work.
"My in-laws were both treated with great respect by hospice care in California, so I understand the greatness, the gentility, the generosity of spirit," Winkler said. "You never think about it ... All of a sudden, you're at the end. When they say to you to be in the moment, they're not joking, because in a second, you're in need of the incredibly kind people of hospice."