75-Year-Old Enjoys "Meal of a Lifetime" in Train Dining Car

Featured on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition"

May 30, 2012, 12:30 ET from Brookdale Senior Living Inc.

CANON CITY, Colo., May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Dorothy Flood, a 75-year-old African-American from Houston, briefly lost her composure as she entered the train's dining car in Canon City, Colorado. As a child when she traveled by train with her grandmother in the 1940s, she had been denied access due to segregation. After wiping her eyes, she purposefully made her way to her seat in anticipation of a three-course gourmet meal, an experience more than 65 years in the making. Flood flew from Houston, Texas, where she resides at the Terrace at Memorial City, to Colorado to receive her lifelong wish, thanks to Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime. Her story was featured on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on May 30 and is available online at http://n.pr/JUWfRo.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120530/CL15769 )

As a child growing up during segregation, Flood traveled from New Jersey to North Carolina every summer with her grandmother. In the early years, the trip was made by train. On those long rides, Flood remembers peering through the glass into the dining car with its fine linen and china, but not being allowed in due to her race. Flood and her grandmother packed shoe boxes with their meals to eat along the route.

"As a child, I didn't understand why we couldn't go in and eat too," said Flood. "I would ask my grandmother, and she would just say we were not allowed."

When she was older, the two would travel by car to visit relatives in the South, but Flood's desire to eat in the dining car never went away. On May 5, Flood was able at last to enjoy lunch in a train dining car, an experience she wasn't sharing alone, she was certain.

"I know my grandmother is here with me today," Flood stated, matter-of-factly.

On the Royal Gorge scenic train in Canon City, Flood was served a baby green salad with sundried cranberries, candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles with raspberry vinaigrette dressing as her starter. For the entree, she dined on grilled salmon with pesto, roasted vegetable orzo pasta and seasonal vegetables. Her dining experience was topped off with a serving of triple chocolate mousse with mascarpone shavings for dessert.

Although she faced discrimination as a child, Flood's positive outlook on life was never affected. A dynamic matriarch, Flood has guided her children and grandchildren with an abundance of love. She provided for them in the early years as an eighth grade language arts and social studies teacher, and later in life as a real estate marketing agent. After retiring, she volunteered as a mentor at Nottingham Elementary in Houston and was a caregiver for her grandson who eventually succumbed to the effects of ataxia. She marvels about how far African-Americans have come, from a painful past of segregation to the pride-filled present with an African-American president.

In 2010, Brookdale Senior Living and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime formed a partnership to provide a helping hand in making some of the dreams of Brookdale's residents come true. To request a wish, residents fill out a wish application explaining an experience they would like to have fulfilled and how that experience relates to one or more dimensions of Brookdale's Optimum Life® platform. Optimum Life cultivates whole-person wellness through fulfillment in the six key dimensions: purposeful, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. Residents at Brookdale Senior Living communities nationwide are invited to share and submit their wishes at www.seniorwish.org. Since the partnership's inception, more than 200 seniors have had their wish granted.

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. is a leading owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. The company is committed to providing an exceptional living experience through properties that are designed, purpose-built and operated to provide the highest-quality service, care and living accommodations for residents. Currently the company operates independent living, assisted living, and dementia-care communities and continuing care retirement centers, with 646 communities in 35 states and the ability to serve over 67,000 residents. Brookdale is committed to providing exceptional living experiences within properties that are purpose-built, designed and operated to help residents live well while achieving an Optimum Life®. Brookdale Senior Living communities provide a daily experience of programs, services and care that are unique as a result of the collective talents and inspiration of the residents, their families, and its associates – demonstrating Brookdale's promise of "Our People Make the Difference." Brookdale is a publicly-traded company (NYSE: BKD). For more information, visit http://www.brookdaleliving.com.

Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime (JBWOL) was established in 2008 by two-time Olympic Skier, former NFL football player and Colorado native Jeremy Bloom in living honor of his grandmother Donna Wheeler. Bloom left competitive sports to launch the foundation in order to initiate a cultural change by enriching the lives of seniors. For more information, please visit www.seniorwish.org.

Contact:                      Andrea Turner (615) 564-8629 aturner2@brookdaleliving.com 

SOURCE Brookdale Senior Living Inc.