Fishers emergency room doctor Gregory Taylor knows firsthand what it’s like to have a wish granted.
In 2007, when he was still training to be a doctor, Taylor’s mother died from multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells in bone marrow.
“About two months before she passed, a family had reached out to us and provided us a free stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Mich.” he said. “And so, we got the whole weekend on them, and it was the one of the few times (since her diagnosis) that we got to see her smile.”
Fast forward a few years, and Taylor is a practicing physician and is in a place financially where he can grant some wishes to people facing serious illnesses. So, he said, he decided to start Physicians for Wishes.
Taylor has already granted one wish, although it was about six months before he started Physicians For Wishes. A family that Taylor is close friends with was going through a difficult time, he said. Their daughter was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
“To be a blessing and to bring a much-needed smile, we took the entire family on a trip to Disney World as our gift to them,” he said. “We made it magical, from every park, character breakfasts, character dinners, meet and greets, to the resort, everything was covered. The amount of smiles and laughter over that week is something they will never forget.”
That experience cemented his desire to grant wishes to families and individuals who are dealing with serious illnesses.
Taylor said there are other organizations that provide a similar service, but there is a lot more need than those groups can meet.
“Despite the many organizations that do exist, thousands of wishes still go unanswered every year,” he said. “This is simply one way to answer a few more, and hopefully many more. Some organizations involve just kids, others just adults, Physicians For Wishes involves the entire spectrum from children to elderly, without an age cutoff.”
To help launch his new service, Taylor recorded an introductory video and started a YouTube channel, youtube.com/@Physicians_for_Wishes/videos on May 31. Since then, he’s recorded four videos for the channel, including “community give-back” videos of him buying coffee and food for customers at the Schoolhouse 7 Cafe in Fishers, and delivering Olive Garden food for Fishers Fire Department personnel at Fire Station 97. The videos are filmed and edited by videographer Arias Williams.
On Aug. 14, Taylor received his first wish nomination — a 20-year-old patient with terminal brain cancer. Taylor said the patient and his family will receive four days at a large, private beach house on Lake Michigan, a bonfire in the sand, s’mores and a catered meal.
Taylor said that for now, the service is funded out of his pocket and through donations.
“The goal is (to grant) a vacation once a month or an activity, whatever the family wishes,” he said.
In between wishes, Taylor said he’d like to continue the “community give-back” videos. His first give-back video was distributing needed items and food at the Wheeler Mission at 205 East New York St. in Indianapolis. He bought and delivered personal hygiene items and 30 large pizzas. The video also features Taylor talking with a Wheeler Mission administrator and a graduate of one of the mission’s programs.
Taylor has his own experience with missions, albeit a little further afield than Indianapolis. After he graduated in 2010 and before starting medical school, he went on medical mission trips in Peru and Uganda. During his med school training, he attended another medical mission to Ukraine before he graduated in 2015.
Taylor completed his residency at Michigan State University, Beaumont Hospital, and joined the U.S. Air Force to become a flight surgeon.
“My family has a pretty extensive military history, ranging from siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents,” he said. “The military became just another way I could give back.”
Taylor is employed by Indiana University Health and Team Health and serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Peru.
Those who would like to donate to Physicians For Wishes can use Taylor’s GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/f/physicians-for-wishes.
Donations help with community give-back services, wishes and to pay for the YouTube video production.
How does it work?
Physicians for Wishes founder Gregory Taylor said eligible wishes “literally can be anything.”
Some nominees might be critically terminally ill, he said, so it could be difficult for them to travel far for a wish. Others might still be relatively active.
“You get someone that’s in hospice, but they’re able to still do some stuff — they can enjoy a weekend getaway with their family at an Airbnb, for example,” he said. “Other ones that were critically ill, (and) they’re in the recovery phase — because not every patient is going to be terminal — let’s say they got enough energy where they can do Disney or something like that.”
Taylor said he wants to know a nominee’s top-three wishes they would like to do right now or in the near future.
“It could be (that) someone’s never went to a Major League ball game. It could be someone who wants to go to an amusement park,” he said. “Or if you get a 80-year-old grandma with cancer and she’s always wanted to learn how to barbecue on the smoker or something like that. Literally, it could be anything.’
At this stage, a trip to Paris isn’t going to happen, he said. However, if the service grows as he hopes, that could be a possibility in the future.
Nominations can come from anyone and should include a few key pieces of information: The name of the nominee, their contact number, city/state, reason for the nomination, and their top three wishes. Nominations can be emailed to [email protected].