98-year-old takes steps to raise funds for good cause

Each day, Ann Bush takes her daily Laps of Love walk around her home to raise funds for St. Francis Reflections hospice.

Walking for a good cause is commendable. Doing so at 98 and as a hospice patient is seriously admirable.

Cocoa Beach resident Ann Bush, a hospice patient of St. Francis Reflections Lifestage Care since last July, wants to raise awareness and support for the organization.

“She loves what the staff is doing for her,” said daughter Cornelia Bush, Bush’s caregiver.

What can a 98-year-old orchestrate to help? A running event, of course. Actually, it’s more like a walking initiative.

“She came upon a news article about an older gentleman who walked around his garden and raised millions for the workers of England’s National Health Service,” explained Cornelia Bush.

Bush has decided to walk 10 laps around her home, while sharing her experiences — and her smiles — until she turns 99 in October. She hopes others will join in the walking and also support St. Francis Reflections with a monetary gift to Laps of Love, as Ann’s initiative is called.

Bush believes there might well be a heavenly reason for the care she has received from hospice.

“St. Francis was always my favorite saint, and the annual Blessing of the Animals my favorite outing,” she said.

Bush’s daughter does not find it unusual for her mom to start such a project.

“She has volunteered her entire life, and is completely in character,” Cornelia Bush said.

The daughter of a World War I Navy officer and the wife of a World War II Army officer, Bush earned a library science degree from Columbia University and served more than two decades as a librarian.

Hospice has served her family well, beginning with the help the service provided for her husband, who passed away in 1992.

Bush had an extremely close call in 2005, when Katrina arrived in New Orleans, where she was living at

the time.

“A tree went through the middle of her house and my brother had to rescue her from the rubble,” Cornelia Bush said.

With her home destroyed, Bush moved to Cocoa Beach.

“She swapped one place with hurricanes for another!” joked her daughter.

Although the valve implanted in her heart has long ago exceeded its life expectancy and Bush is too frail to undergo a replacement operation, her heart remains big enough to care. With the aid of a walker and wearing a nifty Laps of Love T-shirt, she is committed to walking at least 500 feet a day for St. Francis, and to prove that age should not stop you from caring.

“We’re so lucky to have a patient like Ann,” said Matt Barber, the director of development for St. Francis Reflections Foundation.

To donate to Laps of Love visit www.reflectionslsc.org/lapsoflove