One woman accomplishes a life goal after celebrating a big birthday in December.
Bertha Komor, who is nearly halfway to 105 years old, had a simple request. She has always wanted to pet a penguin.
So, her friends and caretakers at Village Gate of Farmington helped her do just that.
“I never thought it would happen,” Komor said.
Mystic Aquarium volunteered their time Wednesday by bringing in a 35-year-old African Penguin named Red Green, the facility’s oldest penguin.
Komor is the oldest resident at her retirement and has lived there for almost a decade. The Philadelphia native was living in Florida for a few years before moving to Connecticut to be closer to her family.
"She makes me smile. She's such a spitfire. There were times when the bus would take off and she would leave her walker and just go,” said Ashley Waddell, enrichment coordinator at Village Gate of Farmington. “She's just an amazing person. To tell me she wanted to touch a penguin, I had to make that dream come true.”
Waddell reached out to Mystic Aquarium and Twilight Wish Foundation. Wednesday's visit, which would have cost $1,700, was free for Bertha and her friends. She not only had a front row view, but the ability to pet a penguin.
Staff from Mystic Aquarium came to teach a crowd of residents about African Penguins.
“Fun fact, there’s actually no way to look at a penguin and know their gender. You have to do a blood test to find out,” said an expert from Mystic Aquarium.
Bertha has lived a long life and enjoyed a long marriage with her husband, too - one that lasted 72 years. Together they had three children, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
"I'm just so excited for her. I'm just so happy she has had this wish come true and just to have been in our lives for as long as she has,” said Komor’s grandchild, Karen Rivkin.
The Twilight Wish Foundation, which started a Connecticut chapter in January, plans to grant more wishes around the state, including trading out a 30-inch TV and installing a 75-inch flat screen and sound bar for convalescence center Wadsworth Glen in Middletown.
"There's all types of wishes that we grant. There's 'need' wishes for things like hearing aids or lift chairs. There's fun wishes like this, where you can pet a penguin or go to a Red Sox game. And there's also wishes based on what they want to do in their life. So somebody would put in a wish for them, and we would try to make that happen," said Andrea Hoisl, director of the Connecticut Chapter of Twilight Wish.
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