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Terminally ill man gets first chance to visit Disneyland

Robert Gordon and his wife, Patricia. (Bob McClay/KTAR Photo)

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa man who is battling cancer is about to have the dream of his life fulfilled.

Robert Gordon, 58, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Doctors have given him 12 months or less to live.

Dream Foundation, a nationwide wish-granting organization, heard about his plight and that his dream of visiting Disneyland has never been fulfilled, due to financial constraints.

The foundation has changed that.

It has arranged a trip that starts Monday and will not only include Disneyland and California Adventure but also Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood. The trip includes a hotel stay and $700 in spending money. A friend of the family will drive Robert and his wife, Patricia, to California.

A Disneyland trip has always been Gordon's dream.

"I've heard about it from other people," said Gordon. "They come back and they say, 'I had a great time,' but I've never had a chance to go."

He's grateful for the surprise and said "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "It's a Small World" are the top attractions on his list. He doesn't like roller coasters, so he'll probably skip "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" and "California Screamin.'"

Gordon's doctors at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center have put him in touch with several California doctors who could be contacted, should he need to go to the hospital while there.

Patricia Gordon said she is "overwhelmed" by all the outpouring of love and support. She called the team at Banner "wonderful" and has also seen the love from their neighbors and members of their church.

"Anything we want, they do," she said. "When I was in the hospital in May for 10 days, they came and brought food to him everyday. They checked on him and made sure he was ok. You just can't ask for a better neighborhood and better friends than our (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) ward family."

The Dream Foundation makes dreams come true for adults who are facing life-threatening illnesses. For more information go to DreamFoundation.org.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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