ESCONDIDO — “If you could do anything, what would you do?” is the question Judy Lucous poses to residents of Cypress Court senior living community. The answers she gets range from simple to a bit more on the wild side, but the common thread is that Lucous has been turning dreams into reality for several seniors over the last two years with the Dreams Do Come True program.
Over the last 14 years Lucous has worked closely with the residents to help them live their best and healthiest lives. With a title of “Wellness Director,” she can be found planning activities for residents, teaching exercise classes or driving residents to their next adventure. She found an immediate home at Cypress Court, with both the staff and the residents. “I love everybody here,” Lucous said. “It’s a really friendly, loving atmosphere.”
It’s her bond with the residents that led her to develop Dreams Do Come True. “It started out with a resident who was on hospice,” she said. “She had five boys and always wanted to do a girls shopping trip. She loved to go shopping. I called up JC Penny and they offered us a personal shopper for the day. I took her in her wheelchair to the mall. She tried on clothes, we took a bunch of pictures and rode up and down in a glass elevator. When I brought her home she was just lit up. I realized how simple it is to make a difference in someone’s life. And if I could make one resident happy, I wondered what other things I could do.”
And with that, Dreams Do Come True was off and running. “From there, there was a young resident in his 60s from Hawaii,” Lucous said. “He used to be a surfer but had suffered a major stroke and came to Cypress Court. He was very depressed from the repercussions of the stroke. I was working with him in the gym and mentioned my program. He said he would love to get back on the water. I found Onit Ability Boards in Oceanside. They offered to help out and were able to transfer him from his wheelchair to a wheelchair mounted on a paddle board and took him out in Oceanside Harbor. His whole family was there with us and we were all crying.”
Some of the dreams Lucous works to grant take a bit of modification. “One resident wanted to go in a hot air balloon, so we ended up taking her to the tethered balloon at the Safari Park and she was tickled,” Lucous said.
Other Dreams Do Come True adventures have included a woman in her 90s going parasailing with San Diego Parasailing, and another in her 90s riding on the back of a motorcycle with the American Legion in the Escondido Christmas parade. One resident who was losing her sight was able to go on a five-mile bike ride on a tandem bike. “I found this awesome guy in San Diego who works with the Blind Stokers Club and he took her where she used to ride with her husband,” she said. “It was another amazing experience.”
Donna Daniel-Herr, Executive Director at Cypress Court, is one of Lucous’ many admirers. “Judy helps grant the wishes of our residents who may have ‘bucket list’ things they would like to do but need help with not only the inspiration to do it, but the means,” she said. “She champions our residents in so many ways and exemplifies every day the principles, values and beliefs we hold dear as associates of Cypress Court and Kisco Senior Living. Dreams Do Come True is one of the most truly outstanding Cypress Court experiences.”
Lucous is quick to point out that she is able to make dreams come true thanks to the generosity of the community. “Everyone involved so far has donated their services or goods, and it has been absolutely free,” she said.
The program, like Lucous herself, shows no signs of slowing down as there are always new dreams to realize. “By the end of the month we will be taking a resident on a biplane with Fun Flights on Palomar Airport Road,” she said. “We are all really excited about it!”
Cypress Court is located at 1255 North Broadway in Escondido. For more information about the exceptional senior living community, visit www.LifeatCypressCourt.com.