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Wish of a Lifetime from AARP

Carolyn’s Determined Flight

Meet Carolyn, a tenacious trailblazer

Carolyn grew up in the 1930s and 40s as a dreamer whose hopes stretched beyond the confines of her parent’s farm. For this determined and brave intellectual, even the sky wasn’t the limit.

Growing up in small town Plainfield, Illinois, Carolyn was determined to get an education and make her mark on the world.

When she learned that she could get funding for college by joining the United States Air Force, a path to her dreams began to take shape.

Carolyn bravely enlisted in 1953, when women in uniform were a rarity by today’s standards, and her hard work paid off.

Of the 80 people in her unit, Carolyn was just one of five selected to attend weather training school. She soon began an exciting new meteorological position at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, home of the 557th Weather Wing.

Carolyn received a top-secret clearance and worked tirelessly, often putting in 12-hour days and pushing herself to learn everything she could.

But she loved her work, which involved learning and training with weather balloons and manual data collection, an essential precursor to radar technology.

Watching the balloons float away, she imagined the view as they ascended toward the heavens and told herself that someday, she would fly alongside them.

However, after retirement, responsibilities and limited resources deferred her dream of flying, but not her determination.

Now, at age 91, Carolyn finally has the help she needs to make her wish come true, thanks to supporters like you!

This summer, the burner will roar to life, the ground will fall away, and she’ll soar through the clouds above the Chicago skyline.

She’ll look down upon her journey, a trail blazed by her intellect, determination, and passion for the skies.

By donating to this wish and others like it, you honor Carolyn and determined dreamers like her. Those with the resilience and passion who dare to dream, no matter their age or circumstance.

We can only imagine the joy Carolyn will feel as she fulfills a promise she made to herself over 50 years ago.

Donate in Carolyn’s honor

We need you. You can be the bridge to unbridled hope and joy. A gift to Wish of a Lifetime in honor of Carolyn extends far beyond a donation.

It will forever change Carolyn’s life and the lives of others like her.

Meet veterans with wishes that need support

In their later years, veterans face barriers to pursuing happiness, including physical and mental health challenges, financial vulnerability, limited social networks, coping with traumatic memories, and more.

Yet, we know the life-changing power of a fulfilled wish! Discover the stories of four veterans and how you can change their lives forever.

Toki hopes to create healing and build legacy by uniting two families.

Roy dreams of exploring his Cherokee heritage with his granddaughters.


John wants to visit his beloved hometown on Memorial Day weekend.

Greg wants to pay his respects at the 9/11 Memorial in NYC.

Help share Carolyn’s trailblazing story