October 31, 2019

After John’s ALS diagnosis he started making his bucket list, at the top of the list was the Sanctuary in Lourdes, France. Second, was to visit the wine country.
John has a strong faith and devotion to Mary and chose the adventure to Lourdes, France. After John and his wife started planning their trip, Team Gleason stepped in to provide travel tips, a handicap accessible van, and an ADA accessible hotel room for their stay in Lourdes.
We are thrilled we could be a part of John’s dream adventure.

Since John was diagnosed with ALS, his life has been a whirlwind of activity. To say the least, it has been a life-changing course.
“From a moral perspective, from the human condition, my story is not good. But when I look through the same eyes, through a spiritual lens, I see great hope for me,” said John.
We don’t believe God willed this cross but He can bring good out of all that happens. So because of our faith, we have embraced this cross. Our hearts are filled with gratitude, overwhelmed by the continual love and support of so many. We are blessed by all of you, who in faith, lift us up in your prayers and deeds, including you, the good people at the Team Gleason Foundation.

John chose the adventure to Lourdes, France, because of his strong faith and devotion to Mary. For those who are not familiar, below tells a little bit about The Sanctuary at Lourdes.
The Sanctuary at Lourdes, France was built to honor Mary the mother of Jesus, who appeared many times to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto. Mary told Bernadette that the waters of Lourdes would heal. There have been 67 miraculous healings since 1868, healings of all kinds. It seems like everyone who visits is assured a healing whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual. And you, the Gleason Foundation helped to make this bucket list dream come true.

Here’s what one of our best days looked like:

We started out early Wednesday, September 11, 2019. We wanted to make every minute count, it was John’s 60th birthday. We went to the International Catholic mass in the underground church. There were over 100 celebrants and approximately 8000 attendees. Following mass, we went to confession to begin our spiritual healing. Then we went to the baths, where hundreds of people were waiting in line for the healing waters–Fortunately, John had a fast pass-wheelchair. We prayed the rosary and sang songs to honor Mary with the others waiting. You could not help but feel God’s love and our human love for each other. It left us feeling spiritually alive. Everyone we met, people from around the world, was there for healing. There was a true feeling of community where each person wanted healing not only for themselves but for all who were there together.
“I am blessed to be a part of a collective spiritual energy with people from all around the world celebrating the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation and the special blessings of the healing waters in the baths of Lourdes.” – John Coffaro
Across from the baths, there was an area to light candles for prayers for healing. Together we lit a huge candle in honor of John for healing and because it was his 60th birthday. Afterward, we went to celebrate with French café food and wine. The day ended with a candlelight procession and a healing service in the Sanctuary. What a great day!
Not only did we visit Lourdes but we were able to travel to the Occitanie region near Toulouse, France and visit wineries in the second half of our trip.
We did not think this adventure was a real possibility, but between the Team Gleason Foundation and our A-team, what started as a bucket list dream for John became a reality.