At 55, Jacksonville resident receives final wish to see Disney World

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At 55, Tommy Nelson fulfilled his final dream — to see the Magic Kingdom. Nelson, who is under the care of Community Hospice at Lanier Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility, has colon cancer that has spread through his body.

Barbara Nicholls, activities director for the Northside facility, said she has a passion for making “last wishes” come true. When she asked Nelson what his would be, he told her he never could afford to go to Disney World and would love to go while still physically able. So Nicholls contacted The Dream Foundation, which made the trip possible.

Nelson was a pool repairman for many years. An accident on the job resulted in the amputation of his right forearm. Despite the accident, he persevered with a cheerful attitude and overcame many obstacles, Nicholls said.

“He is a treasure of ours and a joy to be around,” she said.

At Disney World, Nelson told her he had never had so much fun and would never forget it. He liked the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. He liked “It’s a Small World.” He liked the cartoon character shows, the Christmas acts and the fireworks. He liked to watch others having fun. And he liked the vanilla milk shakes, ice cream cones, double cheeseburgers and chili. He loved the relaxed atmosphere of the Grand Cypress Hotel, the food and ordering room service.

“It was truly magical to see him in that atmosphere,” Nicholls said, adding that he wanted to express his gratitude to the foundation, Lanier Terrace and the hotel and theme park employees who gave him the royal treatment.

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