Pete Dimmer was quite a guy.
He was my father my coach, and my friend. He was tinkerer and an outdoorsman. A kind soul. And pretty healthy for a 65-year-old.
Until the fall of 2011. A routine gallbladder surgery revealed that he actually had pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. If you don’t already know, basically that means I had little to no time left with my dad. I had just relocated to LA from Chicago with my wife, Jess. We were settling into new jobs and new lives, making new friends. But without thinking twice, we decided to travel home every chance we could get. Every weekend. Sometimes longer. Because we didn’t want to miss a moment. And… because we could. Because every holiday, weekend, day, minute, second… could be our last together.
Looking back on it now, though it is all still so painful to recall, I feel so blessed that I was there. I was there right after he was diagnosed. I was there when he got sicker. I was there for his last cognizant moments. I was there for his last moments of life. And I was there when he died.
About a month before dad passed away, it struck me. What do people do when they can’t be there? Jess and I had been so fortunate, to be able to make all those trips without so much as blinking. It pained me to think of those who couldn’t see their loved ones before their passing… simply because they couldn’t afford the cost of travel.
I was inspired to create a non-profit company. Our mission is to give those who cannot afford to travel the opportunity to visit their loved ones dying of cancer, so they can cherish the last holiday, weekend, day, minute, second… together.
In my father’s last days and beyond, stories came pouring back to us. How he — as a father, coach, friend, neighbor — always went the extra mile to help anyone in need. So our name, The Extra Mile, just beautifully fell into place.
Now others can have the chance I had: To say goodbye.