Leta H., 78, from Brookdale Westlake Hills in Austin, Texas, has been a fan of Rachael Ray for several years. Leta owned her own cookware store, Bon Appetit, for about 10 years. Bon Appetit offered cooking classes, sold cookware and organized trips that involved food. Leta also sold cookware for The Breden Company for several years. Before she became paralyzed 3.5 years ago, Leta used to cook every day. Leta said “Rachael Ray inspires me because she can do simple food on a day-to-day basis, so at the end of the day you don’t feel like ‘oh no, I have to cook another meal’ when you go into the kitchen. She is someone who took something she loved to do and made it into a successful business. She is so down to earth. I feel Rachael Ray is the kind of person I would love to converse with. She is what I could’ve been. My inspiration.” Leta wished she could receive a video message from Rachael Ray.
Not only did Leta dedicate her time to cooking, but also to various local organizations. Leta volunteered for the Women’s Symphony League from the early 1960s to 2013. Leta was Treasurer of the League and sold house ware to raise funds for the organization. Today, Leta is President of the Brookdale Westlake Hills Resident Council and the Resident Ambassador. Although Leta is essentially bed-ridden, the community brings new and potential residents to Leta so she can give them an official greeting and ease any apprehensions they may have about moving into a long-term retirement setting.
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living were excited to surprise Leta with a personalized video message and autographed cookbook from Rachael Ray at a Rachael Ray themed party on March 30, 2017. Leta watches Rachael Ray every day on TV, noting that “one of the highlights of my day is to be able to watch Rachael Ray on television. It would be so wonderful to have the memories of hearing from her in my mind, going through my head as I lay here.” This wish allowed Leta to reconnect with her lifelong passion while learning from one of her favorite cooks.
Photo credit: Dustin Finkelstein
Video credit: Jody Russell, Droplight Media