A Jenny Hoff Story that makes you Sad, then Mad and then teary-eyed Glad

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Meandering Valley Thoughts, Spokane Valley Folks
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Every time that I do an interview for the Spokane Valley Scoop quarterly newsletter I always wind up with a lot of great stories that I can’t fit into the feature story. Jenny Hoff, the subject of the most recent Scoop was certainly no exception. The story she told us about going on a cruise was too involved to weave into the original article that I wrote but too moving to leave forever on the editing room floor. So on the eve of a great benefit for Jenny I thought I’d pick it up and give it a blog post of its own.
When Jenny was given the diagnosis of having Lou Gehrig’s disease in the summer of 2006 she had all of her mobility and coordination, she just had occasional loss of balance. The cruel and steady advance of the debilitating disease spares no one, however, and Jenny stubbornly moved along from cane to walker to wheelchair to powered wheelchair. Her family knew time was running out for Jenny and Jeff to make memories of adventure and fun and so they bought them tickets for a Mexican cruise.
Flying on the airlines with a powered wheelchair and being immobile is a difficult and complicated task. Jenny studied up long beforehand and then spent hours on the phone with the airlines and hotels and Carnival Cruise Lines coordinating every detail. Finally on a snowy day in January of 2009, Jenny and Jeff boarded their plane at the Spokane Airport and there they sat. After a long wait it was determined that repairs would take several hours and so passengers could wait or be assigned to other flights.
The trouble was there were no immediate flight connections and the four-hour, best-case-scenario delay did not give them enough time. So Jenny and Jeff had to go back home and say goodbye to their dream cruise and Jeff’s car keys which were on their way to Los Angeles along with their luggage. A friend had to drive out in the snowstorm and give them a ride home, stopping at the liquor store to let Jeff buy a bottle of rum. Needless to say, it did little to dull the pain of being left behind that wintry night in Spokane as their cruise ship sailed towards the warmth of Mexico thousands of miles away.
Jenny found out the hard way that cruise companies hold passengers responsible for getting to the dock on time and airlines take no blame when they make that impossible. For months Jenny called and wrote to the airlines and Carnival and insurance companies and received nothing but “please holds” and “we’re sorries.” With her window of opportunity steadily closing, Jenny finally sent out an email to everyone she could asking for suggestions.
One of her friends contacted KREM and they did a story on her. A mother and daughter from Post Falls who had already bought tickets for a Caribbean cruise saw the newscast and decided they could wait but Jenny and Jeff could not. They not only gave them their tickets, they also worked to raise enough money to pay for a caregiver so Jeff could relax and enjoy his time with Jenny that much more. When they booked their flight this time, they gave themselves an extra day’s grace before the cruise left port, knowing that it was by the grace of some strangers’ love, generosity and sacrifice that they had been given a second chance for a last vacation.

We have other stories on Video told by Jenny on our Facebook page at spokanevalleyscoop.facebook.com.

Comments
  1. […] Scoop ran this feature in our newsletter last Spring and this blog post recently on […]

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