Second Wind Dreams is a national organization that discovers the secret desires of senior citizens, then works to make the dreams come true. Wichita Presbyterian Manor has partnered with the organization for several years. A committee of employees and volunteers is specially trained to conduct in-depth interviews with residents, seeking to discover a resident’s dreams.
Woman’s dream to reunite with ventriloquist she mentored in the ’70s came true
Betty Lehnus created thousands of smiles through the years by making mascots and puppets. In 2010, volunteers joined forces to make the former business owner smile by reuniting her with Buddy Big Mountain, a ventriloquist, magician and comedian.
An 85-year-old Wichita Presbyterian Manors resident at the time, Lehnus had advanced dementia, but one subject sure to perk her up was Buddy Big Mountain. She met him in the 1970s when he was establishing his entertainment career and she was bringing mascots to life including a WuShock for Wichita State University, a Jayhawk for the University of Kansas and a peacock for NBC. She mentored the burgeoning artist, helping teach him the art of making puppets on her sewing machine. She made Mountain’s signature character, Windell P. Snodgrasz, which Lehnus called “Cowboy Windell.”
Buddy Big Mountain went on to be known as the first international Native American ventriloquist, performing his comedy act on the stage, television and theater.
The pair’s reunion came about through Second Wind Dreams.
“Our residents’ dreams are usually experiences they enjoyed in their youth or their prime that they miss,” said Senior Counselor Amy Watson. “Taking a trip or meeting a celebrity isn’t usually appealing to them; they often want to do things they did as their profession: milk a cow, tour fields of crops or teach in a classroom. We were happy to have fulfilled Mrs. Lehnus’ dream of reuniting with Buddy before she passed away last year.”