Patrick Mitchell’s number one goal in life was to live to be 100 years old, but that one wish abruptly came to an end about a year ago. At age 72, Patrick was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“When that news came out, it pretty much sent us all reeling," said Vanessa Mitchell-Delmotte, Mitchell’s daughter.
Patrick’s health started to quickly decline in late December and his daughter Vanessa knew she wanted to make the time he had left extra special.
“My dad loves stories,” said Mitchell-Delmotte. “He loves human interest stories, he loves learning about people's lives, he loves adventure stories. So, I just wanted to give him some amazing final adventures.”
She posted in a local Facebook group asking about unique bucket list ideas in the San Diego area and within minutes, ideas and offers from strangers came pouring in.
“She said that her dad's dad was on the Makin Island,” said Cherish Stevens. “My husband is stationed on the Makin Island and I said, ‘Hey, let's do something. Like that's something that's cool, right?”
Cherish and Donny were two of the generous strangers. They offered to treat Vanessa and her dad to a private tour of the Navy Amphibious Assault Ship USS Makin Island, and that was just the beginning.
A U.S. Navy Search and Rescue Swimmer also took them on a private tour of a helicopter squadron at the North Island. The two also flew to Las Vegas and attended a UFC fight courtesy of another kind of stranger. And back at home, Patrick enjoyed a private concert put on by a local violinist.
“It was a beautiful thing to see the love between, you know, his daughter and him and that she wanted to do something very special for him in a very difficult circumstance,” said Jeremy Cooke, the local violinist. “And so, I was happy to be a part of that.”
The ideas went into the triple digits and while Vanessa and her dad wanted to take everyone up on their offers, Vanessa says he was becoming increasingly fatigued as the time passed. Still, she says the offers themselves meant more to them than the experiences.
“If everyone can get behind a story like this, whether it's mine or someone else of people helping each other, just being there, it really just makes you feel better every day,” said Mitchell-Delmotte.
Patrick lost his battle with cancer last week. While his bucket list may have not been complete, his daughter Vanessa says her father died a happy man.