A Lake City woman’s dying wish was to see the Grand Canyon. Virtual reality made it possible

A Lake City woman's dying wish was granted nearly one year ago. A company called provided Brenda with a virtual reality trip to the Grand Canyon.

LAKE CITY, Fla. – A Lake City woman’s dying wish was granted nearly one year ago.

Brenda Polson battled Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for several years. She received a Stage 4 diagnosis, which ended up being terminal.

Through it all, there was just one thing Brenda desperately wanted to do.

“She has always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon,” said Brenda’s daughter, Elizabeth.

Physically going was out of the question since Brenda was bedridden and in hospice care.

David Stoller with a company called Rendever stepped in to help. Rendever, which was established in 2016, is known for creating social experiences using virtual reality.

The company provided Brenda with a virtual reality trip to the Grand Canyon. It was an experience she shared with her daughter and son-in-law.

“Even though I know I was just standing there in a room, I was still on an adventure with her that was not possible at that time,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth said her mother had the time of her life.

Brenda hiked on a path and cracked jokes at the same time.

“She was blown away,” Elizabeth said. “She was looking everywhere. We were like ‘focus here, look over there.’ She would look down into crevices and we would point out like ‘Hey, there is a deer over there, there is a rock. There are little streams over there.’”

A five-minute virtual reality experience seemed worth more than a week out of town.

“It meant the world honestly,” Elizabeth said while fighting back tears. “It was one thing we could do for her.”

“When we hear from patients that we made their dream a reality, those are pretty moving moments for us,” Stoller said. “It reaffirms why we do what we do.”

Elizabeth said her mom smiled more and was happier after that experience.

It was an experience she says meant much more because they shared it together.

“It was not anything I did,” Elizabeth said. “It was what [Rendever] gave us. So I just [have] gratitude. Love and gratitude.”

Brenda died in November 2021, about four months after that excursion. She was 58 years old.

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