Bolivia, NC – West Brunswick High School’s graduation is scheduled for May 31, but on May 10, WBHS senior Travis Grimsley graduated from high school at the SECU Hospice House in Brunswick so that his father could share in the celebration.
It was important to both Travis and his father that his father be there for his graduation. When Lower Cape Fear Hospice (LCFH) Clinical Nurse Manager Sandy Duncan learned of this wish, she reached out to staff at WBHS and Brunswick County Schools, including WBHS Principal Rhonda Benton, about coordinating the graduation.
Neither agency had ever done something like that before, but they were determined to make it work. They quickly selected a date and started making sure all the pieces were in place.
“It was a coordinated effort between the school and us to make sure it happened,” Duncan said, adding that bringing it together in two days was hectic at times. “We just kind of flew by the seat of our pants, and got it all together.”
On May 10, two days after they started planning, staff from LCFH and Brunswick County Schools lined the hallway at the SECU Hospice House in Brunswick as Travis marched down the hall to his father’s room, dressed in his WBHS cap and gown while Pomp and Circumstance played in the background. In his father’s room, WBHS Principal Rhonda Benton presented Travis with his diploma and congratulated him on his hard work at an official podium in front of half a dozen family members, and Duncan gave Travis a certificate of achievement from LCFH. Cameras snapped and flashed. Hugs, presents and a few tears followed. Travis’ father was present for all of it.
“I never thought it would get this big; I just wanted to make sure his dad was there for his graduation,” Duncan said.
Travis’ father died later that day.
“It was very emotional, very touching, very satisfying, for his family and for our staff,” Duncan added. “We were all tired after, emotionally and physically, but we did the right thing.”
Lower Cape Fear Hospice is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the highest level of care and comfort to patients with life-limiting illness; support and counseling to families; and education to the community. For more information, visit lcfh.org.