Embracing Hope: A Journey of Love and Resilience

By |Published On: September 4, 2023|Categories: Family Retreats|
Hope sitting in a camping chair and smiling wide at the camera as her dad, Greg is kneeling beside her also smiling.

Meet Greg, a devoted father, and his daughter Hope…

Hope lives with Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes delayed development, problems with speech and balance, intellectual disability, and, sometimes, seizures. Hope had her first seizure when she was just two years old, and doctors gave her parents a bleak diagnosis:

“She’ll never walk, never talk, and she’ll have a seizure one day that she’ll pass away from.”

But Hope’s father never gave up—even when Hope’s mother passed away from breast cancer when Hope was twenty. Despite his heartbreak Greg remained a steadfast pillar of strength for his beloved daughter.

More than respite…

In 2013 Greg and Hope attended their first Joni and Friends Family Retreat, a week that would forever alter their perspective on life’s challenges. The retreat offered more than just a respite; it provided an oasis of understanding, compassion, and belonging that they had yearned for.

Hope and a Joni and Friends volunteer as they both look at a spotted bunny rabbit. Hope has a big smile on her face as she watches it.

At Family Retreat Greg and Hope enjoy a week of fun and reconnection with the blessing of extra helping hands.

“Family Retreat is respite for people who are gasping for air… for sanity. Here, people understand our situation. For Hope and me, it’s a week where we get to love on one another,” Greg says.

Within the Joni and Friends community at Family Retreat, Greg loves seeing his daughter enjoy being received, celebrated, and known for the delightful person God has made her to be. Hope loves balls, slapstick comedy movies, bread, and church. And she is always excited to see everyone at Family Retreat.

“Her name is Hope. But she brings a LOT of joy!”


“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

James 4:8

Greg shared about the spiritual impact of Family Retreat:

“The worship has me in tears. There’s a very sweet spirit of the Lord here. Family Retreat provides me with the intentional time and space to come back to the Lord.”

And as a recent Family Retreat participant, Greg’s wife Terumi learned what Greg appreciated already—how time with Joni and Friends provides an opportunity to grow in faith and closeness with the Lord.

Hope smiling wide and laughing with her two Joni and Friends volunteers beside her.

You can help Joni and Friends change lives!

For families navigating disability, respite, belonging, and hope can be hard to find. At Joni and Friends we envision a world where every person living with disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ… and you can help make that possible.

When you support Joni and Friends through prayer, serving as a volunteer, or donating, you make life-changing disability ministry possible.

Get Involved in Joni and Friends Family Retreat

At Joni and Friends, we value each person as an image-bearer of God, worthy of dignity and respect! We create a rich, Christ-centered environment at each Family Retreat that is safe and accepting for every member of the family.

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