Cleveland Restaurant Sends Mocha Milkshake 375 Miles to Virginia to Help a Woman's Dying Wish Come True
A woman in hospice care in Arlington, Virginia, had a wish fulfilled just days before she died—she enjoyed one last mocha milkshake from her favorite Cleveland area restaurant, even though it was hundreds of miles away.
When Sam Klein visited his childhood friend, Emily Pomeranz, 50, as she sat in hospice dying of pancreatic cancer, she told him she wanted two last things: a Cleveland Indians hat, and a mocha milkshake from Tommy's Resturant, her favorite eatery in their hometown of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Though Pomeranz said it in jest, Klein immediately began thinking of ways he could get the milkshake to his friend, regardless if the restaurant was 375 miles away. "I thought, if I brought a cooler full of ice, drove six hours with the air conditioner blasting, it might be possible," Klein, 50, tells PEOPLE.
Once he figured the chances of his plan being successful were slim, he emailed Tommy Fello, the owner of the restaurant, and asked if he could help.
"When he told me she wanted a mocha milkshake, I said, ‘holy mackerel!' " Fello tells PEOPLE. "I didn't know if I could make it happen, but I told him that I'd try to work something out. I really didn't want to get his hopes up."
Fello needed to come up with a way of keeping the milkshake frozen while holding its original quality. So Fello went with the best idea he had: he put the milk shake in a carefully packed box filled with dry ice and sent it overnight to Arlington.
The plan worked wonderfully, and Pomeranz received the milkshake the next day. She immediately called Klein when she opened the package.
"She said, ‘I know you're behind this, a Tommy's mocha milkshake just arrived!' " Klein says. He remembers Pomeranz bellowing out her trademark contagious laugh during the call, and he laughed right along with her as he did so many times before.
Pomeranz died a few days later on July 28.
On July 31, Klein posted what would become a viral picture of Pomeranz with the milkshake on his Facebook page, along with the story of its arrival.
"When I saw the picture with Emily with the milkshake with a giant smile on her face, I'll tell you, I never had such a feeling in my life," Fello says. "I couldn't imagine how happy somebody could be just from getting one of our shakes. The shakes are good, but they're not that good!"
Klein and Fello say they are comforted by the messages strangers from all over the world have sent them and Pomeranz's family—and if Pomeranz knew thousands of people would have seen her picture, Klein says she would have thought it was awesome. "Emily always wanted to be famous and she would think this is the coolest thing, she would just love that," he says. "I'm so glad she's getting notoriety now for being a good person."
Together, Klein and Fello were able to bring a smile to someone who needed it the most, and Fello says that is a treasure he will hold on to.
"So many times you want to help someone, but you're not sure how," Fello says. "Thank God Sam had this idea and brought it to me, and I was actually able to help someone feel better. Boy that makes me feel great!"