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Enriching a final journey

By Priscilla Presley, Special to CNN
updated 12:56 PM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dream Foundation grants wishes to terminally ill people 18 years and older
  • Most dreams are simple and involve spending quality time with family
  • You can support the charity by donating time, cash or even airline miles

Editor's note: Best known as the ex-wife of Elvis Presley, Priscilla Presley is also an actress and businesswoman. She was thrust into the role of managing the late singer's Tennessee mansion, Graceland, after Elvis' father died, and opened the home to the public in 1982 to save it from financial ruin. Presley enjoys being involved with charitable work. For the past 11 years, she has been an ambassador of Dream Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based wish-granting national organization for adults battling terminal illnesses.

Santa Barbara, California (CNN) -- I first heard of Dream Foundation in 1997 when the charity requested a visit to Graceland for a dream recipient. After the visit, I received a thank-you note and photo of the dreamer in front of the Graceland gates. I was moved by her experience and decided I wanted to get more involved, so I picked up the phone to find out more about the foundation. I was absolutely mesmerized and instantly attached to their unique mission of granting wishes to adults with terminal illnesses.

When I was asked to be an ambassador and spokeswoman for the charity, I couldn't say yes fast enough. How could I turn down such a great cause? I've been honored to travel and represent the organization across the country at special events and corporate meetings, as well as in public service announcements, television and print interviews.

But the best part of my "job" is seeing the hands-on attention and care we give to the people we serve.

There's a common misperception that all the dreams we fulfill are for grand vacations. But many requests are profoundly basic: Pay a utility bill, or provide mobility with a scooter. No matter the scale of the dream -- whether it's a peaceful escape to the beach, a long-delayed family reunion or an appliance that works -- every one is touching and heartwarming because it unites people.

Dreams provide comfort and closure, not only to the recipients, but to their family members as well. Ill parents often want nothing more than to see their kids smiling and having fun again. In turn, these dreams also give children an opportunity to see their parents happy, carefree and outside of the hospital's sterile environment.

One dreamer really stands out in my mind: Helena, a young girl of 23 with cancer. She had a beautiful voice and wanted to be a singer. The Dream Foundation contacted Grammy award-winning songwriter Diane Warren and got permission for Helena to record a song in Diane's studio. When Helena played the recording back, it was heartwarming to see her smile and be so full of joy. The song not only made Helena happy, but her family happy as well, knowing her dream had been fulfilled. How can you beat that?

After Helena passed, her husband was left with that precious recording to help remember her by. To this day, he still calls and thanks the Dream Foundation for granting his wife's wish.

I've been blessed to work with Dream Foundation. The organization has impacted me in so many ways. I think when you see and experience someone's dream with them, it lives on within you. It's life-changing.

We all have problems, but we have to stop thinking of ourselves and focus on the bigger picture. There are people suffering all over the world, and we can make life a little bit better -- even if only for a moment -- one dream at a time.

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