First Ever “Medora Wish” to be Granted

Brand new endowment will help more families enjoy Historic Medora, funds first trip for recipient John Wright 


The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is wonderfully-pleased to announce the first ever recipient of a fully sponsored trip to Medora, John Wright, will experience the Badlands and more this weekend, August 31 – September 2, thanks to a new fund created by TRMF supporters called The Medora Wish Endowment.

John Wright, Medora Wish recipientJohn, a 47 year old from Spearfish, South Dakota, (pictured at left) has suffered from seizures his entire life and can communicate only through physical gestures. He has never been to Medora, but “lit up” when he and his caretaker, Louise, first came across pictures online. John has a love for music and entertainment, connecting immediately with the idea of going to the Medora Musical.


This weekend, John, traveling alongside Louise, and his mother, Helen, will be the first recipient to have a Medora wish granted, when they enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime Medora experience full of entertainment, North Dakota Badlands and wild life, and a chance to meet the stars of the show, thanks to two families who came together to create the Medora Wish Endowment.


Created and initially funded by Medora Supporters Don & Pat Clement and Michael & Vicki Zaun, the Medora Wish Endowment takes inspiration from TRMF founder, Harold Schafer, who’s known for his work to rebuild the historic town, but who also insisted that those working with him always tried to “find ways to keep costs low for families.”


Co-creator, Don Clement, took Harold’s ideal to heart, commenting, “The very future of Medora lies in our ability to provide an affordable experience to all families”

Guided by their hearts and inspired by the man who saved Medora, the two families created the endowment with plans for earnings from the fund to help more families each year.

They wanted the fund to help families like Justin Wright’s, but also to help make Medora easier for families across the region to enjoy, so they wanted the new fund to focus on two things:


  1. To help fund additional “Kids FREE” days at various Medora attractions or events each year, like the ever-popular Kids Day at the Medora Musical that happens each Wednesday and Sunday during the season.
  2. And to periodically help cover the cost of travel, ticketing, lodging and/or other expenses related to sponsoring an inspirational trip to Medora, for a person like John Wright, who could not otherwise experience it for physical, mental, or other limitations.


“The Medora Wish Endowment is an extension of Harold Schafer’s philanthropic spirit for Medora,” says longtime TRMF President, Randy Hatzenbuhler. “We have been very fortunate to have generous and broad support for many capital projects in Medora. However, the Medora Wish Endowment is one of the most significant efforts to build an endowment that could have tremendous impact on Medora’s future.”


Hatzenbuhler continues, “Gifts to the Endowment are not for a building; rather the Medora Wish Endowment earnings will be used to reduce costs for families visiting Medora for years to come.”


Mike and Vicki Zaun echo Clement and Hatzenbuhler in their desire to help even more experience Medora. “We participated in the creation of The Medora Wish Endowment to provide another way for supporters to primarily help fund children’s participation of Medora activities, and also to provide funding for less privileged people to experience Medora.”

For the very first Medora Wish recipient and his family, though, it is a dream come true at just the right time. John and his mother haven’t been on a trip together for over a decade and Helen, who has trouble communicating because of disabilities of her own, says this is likely the very last trip she’ll be able to go on.


For Clement, that makes the time and treasure it has taken so far to create the Medora Wish Endowment all worth it. “Our Family is just so humbled and honored to be able to help make John’s Medora Wish a reality. We are anxious to meet him and to have others join us in growing the Medora Wish.”


Learn more about the new Medora Wish Endowment at

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