Whether we have a bucket list printed out and framed (morbid) or we have a rough idea in mind, we each have our own personal rundown of things we’d like to achieve before we die. There are the obvious cliches that usually top most people’s lists like swimming with dolphins and skydiving and while these are fun ideas, the fact that everyone else wants to do them kinda makes it less fun. These kinds of lists guilt trip us into thinking our lives are dull and unadventurous.
The amazing and admirable fact is, those who know they haven’t got much time left on this planet are the true adventurers and their idea of a bucket list can be surprising and pretty unique as you’ll discover below. Those who have always been well-behaved their whole lives suddenly find they have the urge to break the law. Others have wanted to turn the whole idea of a bucket list on its head and give their families an amazing gift once they’re gone.
Most of the following bucket lists stories show how terminal illness shouldn’t have to get in the way of doing wonderfully weird (and sometimes criminal!) things during your last days. These guys have the right idea when it comes to doing exactly what makes them happy while they’re still around to enjoy it. Shame we get caught up in the trivial crap to follow their example. Here are 15 insane and amazing bucket list stories that’ll make you wanna go out and do something just for the hell of it.
15. The Teen Who Wanted To Taser A Cop
When a teenage girl from Ohio found out her leukemia had returned, she decided she didn’t want to carry on with any more treatment and requested a very bizarre bucket list goal indeed – she had always wanted to use a stun gun on somebody. 16-year-old Alyssa Elkins from Ohio got her weird wish thanks to her uncle Josh Barry, who had worked with a taser gun as part of his training as a state trooper.
After a brief training session with police in central Ohio, Alyssa was allowed to zap Sgt. Doug Bline of the Newark police department who described the experience as “unpleasant, but well worth it.” The brave young teen also got to zap her uncle too (I think we’d all love to zap a relative if we had the chance!). Alyssa’s uncle Josh said sweetly afterward “I’d do anything for my niece.” I wonder if the rest of Alyssa’s family volunteered?
14. A 99-Year-Old “Goody Two Shoes” Who Spent The Night In a Jail Cell
You might think that by the time you’ve reached 99 years old that you’ve fulfilled your heart’s desire somewhere along the way. Not for one Dutch lady. Before she hit her century milestone, this sweet and delightfully mischievous old lady named Annie wanted nothing more than to be arrested and thrown into a prison cell! Annie had apparently always been a “very good girl” her entire life and wanted to experience something most of us try to avoid.
Annie got her wish after her niece arranged for a police officer to surprise Annie and take her away in his police car. As a further surprise, police in the city of Nijmegen close to the Dutch-German border later posted photos of Annie’s “arrest” on their official Facebook page, showing the fun-loving 99-year-old smiling as officers handcuffed her. While she apparently loved the experience of being arrested, it didn’t work out completely perfect for Annie – her wrists were too slender for the handcuffs and they kept slipping off!
13. Taking A Dying Dog On A 12,000 Mile Road Trip
15 years is a great age for any dog to reach, but it doesn’t make it any less painful when you have to say goodbye to your four-legged friend. That’s why one couple made the most of their pooch’s remaining time by sending him on a whirlwind adventure that even the most well-travelled human would be envious of. Thomas Neil Rodriguez and his fiancée took 15-year-old Poh on a road trip across the US, where he got to see the Hollywood sign and the Washington monument.
Before he passed away in February 2016, Poh the yellow Labrador got his paws wet in the Pacific ocean, went for walkies in the Arizona desert, and took a nap by the Golden Gate bridge. Poh even has his own Instagram account with cute pictures from his incredible road trip. Rodriguez and his partner have also kept Poh’s memory alive by making Poh merchandise for his fundraiser page. The Poh Fund – which lets older dogs live out their lives comfortably – has gained over $26,000 in donations and counting!
12. A Little Girl’s Hilariously Fierce Bucket List
Technically, this one isn’t a bucket list story as such, since the girl who came up with the list is perfectly healthy, but we had to include her here anyway simply because she has some of the best life goals we’ve ever heard. The list – written by 11-year-old Texan girl named Jesse – was found on the kitchen counter by her older brother, Josh, who immediately tweeted a picture of it. Jesse’s bizarre list didn’t take long to go viral and you’ll see why…
At the top of her life goals list, we have things like “eat a hammerhead shark” and “get a pet blobfish.” So far, so weird. The wonderfully quirky tween also wants to pet a cheetah, stay asleep for a total of 24 hours (trust us, she will when she’s in college) and to also translate a sign “in a different language” by March 20th 2019 specifically. Um okay. According to her brother Josh, she started writing these before her birthday. She thought this all up before turning 12? We feel so unaccomplished!
11. The Dying Mom Who Left Her Husband And Sons The Ultimate Bucket List
Bucket lists are usually intended for the person who is facing death, but one brave mom wanted to do the opposite and make sure her beloved husband and two boys had something to focus on after her death. The 2016 British film Mum’s List was inspired by the real-life story of Kate Greene, a mom of two with terminal breast cancer who made a list full of fun challenges and life lessons for her husband and two sons to do together.
Kate sadly passed away in 2010, but her husband Singe and two boys Reef and Finn have done incredible things in their mom’s memory. According to Kate’s wishes, her sons have so far toured the National History museum in London on roller skates, had a snorkeling adventure in Egypt, and met Santa in Lapland. The 79 wishes Kate left for her family has been turned into a best-selling book and now a film starring Emilia Fox.
10. Dave Grohl’s Last Gift To Cancer Patient
It’s fairly well known that Dave Grohl is an awesome guy, but we didn’t realize just how awesome until we heard this story. Cancer patient and mega Foo Fighters fan Ken Powell had been battling melanoma cancer since 2001 but in 2009, Ken’s cancer became terminal. Since being given his diagnosis, 56-year-old Ken started crossing things off his bucket list – one of which was a long-held dream to meet the Foo Fighters main man, Dave Grohl.
When the band was on a flight during their tour, a flight attendant who had heard about Ken Powell’s bucket list shared the news with Grohl, who did something incredible. Grohl not only reached out to Ken, he took a photo of himself saying “Hi” (just as Ken had to Grohl on social media) and mailed Ken an autograph, some band souvenirs, and VIP tickets to their LA concert in 2015. Sadly, Ken died weeks before he was due to go to the gig, but his idol will always remember him (Ken began trending on social media with the hashtag “Ken the Foo Fighter”) and that’s pretty rock ‘n’ roll.
9. Two-Time Cancer Survivor Who Fulfilled A “Survivor” List
Surviving cancer twice in his life was a double-edged sword for Greig Trout. Although happy to have beaten the odds, he suffered severely from post-traumatic stress disorder and lived in crippling fear of his cancer returning and destroying his life all over again. Eventually, he became inspired to create an “anti-bucket list” dedicated to all the things cancer fighters can do now and once they recover, rather than labeling it a list to do “before you die.”
Trout made the bold move to sell all his belongings and travel the world to complete his list of “101 things to do when you survive.” His post-cancer travels and blog posts have helped to raise money and awareness for both cancer and mental health charities and have inspired those battling cancer to make their life the focus, not their illness. Grieg has since been to 23 countries and ticked off an impressive 41 goals from his 45 “anti-bucket list.”
8. The Couple Who Made A Bucket List For Their Baby
The last thing any new parent should have to be faced with is preparing for their baby’s death. Sadly, this was the reality for one couple from Pennsylvanian who were told that their unborn bundle of joy would be coming into the world with a terminal defect. Having learned this devastating news just 13 weeks into her pregnancy, Jenna and her partner Dan decided to make the most of the pregnancy by fulfilling a “bucket list” while their son was in the womb.
To celebrate the time they were given to bond with their son, the couple went on a tour of New York City, took in a few baseball games so Daddy could bond with his little man, and Jenna even painted her baby bump to look like a Jack O Lantern on Halloween. When their son Shane was finally born in October 2014, he died just four hours after the birth, but Jenna and Dan were glad of the bond they shared together during the pregnancy.
7. 100-Year-Old Grandma Who Wanted To Go To Court
If you lived to 100, how would you imagine celebrating it? A 6ft birthday cake, maybe? A massive house party with all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Not a top priority if you’re Maire Godfrey from Dublin. This eccentric Irish grandmother had many bucket list wishes wish ranging from the modest (eating at McDonald’s for the first time) to meeting the Irish pro golfer Padriag Harrington. But she also had one very odd request in particular – to spend the day in court.
Godfrey had never set foot in a courtroom in her entire life and was incredibly curious to go. With the excitement a kid would have in Willy Wonka’s factory, Maire got to sit in the dock and the judge’s seat, and she also got to see the inner sanctums where even solicitors aren’t allowed! Strange lady. Maire was apparently spurred on by her granddaughter, Rebecca, to create a Facebook page of her hundredth year and share stories about her amazing life. This led to Maire writing and publishing her first book at the age 100 – that’s one way to celebrate a century!
6. British Teenager Stephen Sutton And His Celeb-Filled Bucket List
The British teen Stephen Sutton has been a big name in the news in recent years and cancer charities continue to raise money in his name long after his death. Stephen died at age 19 of colorectal cancer in May 2014, but the reason he is still such a celebrated figure in the cancer community is because of his incredible attitude towards his illness, not to mention his ambitious and star-studded bucket list.
Despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer at the tender age of 15 years old, Stephen didn’t just plan his own list of fun and outrageous things to do, he actively spent his time campaigning and raising money for others in his situation. Most people would be wallowing in depression, but Stephen filled his time writing a book, having UK comedian Jason Manford perform a charity gig in his honour, and was visited in hospital by then Prime Minister David Cameron. On top of this, the Aussie comedian Tim Minchin wrote a song about him and Stephen also fulfilled his dream of playing drums to a massive crowd. Respect.
5. When Robin Williams Surprised A Dying Fan
A matter of months before the legendary comedian tragically committed suicide in 2014, he reached out to a terminally ill fan. 21-year-old Vivian Waller had been diagnosed with bowel cancer which had quickly spread to her lungs and liver and one huge part of her bucket list was to meet her idol, Robin Williams. As her cancer spread, Waller became unable to travel, but she got her wish anyway when Williams surprised her with a video message.
In the video, the comedian gave a shout out to Vivian, her husband Jack, and their daughter, before launching randomly into an impression of Matthew McConaughey. He then ended the message by saying “you can knock this off your bucket list. Much love to you, baby.” The fact that Williams must have been in a pretty dark place himself by this point, yet still managed to make his fan’s day is pretty admirable and goes to show what an awesome guy he was.
4. Elderly Man Who Wanted To Crash His Car
This last wish wasn’t a grim attempt to take his own life – an elderly man simply wanted to have a bit of fun and do something reckless in his autumn years. 91-year-old Walter Thomas from a suburb in Chicago had always been a bit of a carefree spirit and loved living life to the extreme. Even in his nineties, he still had the bug to do something crazy, and he certainly did that when he decided to crash a car, just for the hell of it.
Thomas says that his garage door was due to be taken down and replaced, so inspiration struck and he decided he wanted to ram an SUV into it. He clearly had fun doing it, telling reporters “I hit the gas, squealed the tires and bang! We went through the door. I don’t know what I could do to top it.” The SUV was thankfully donated especially for that purpose. Walter’s neighbours are probably nervous – he might get an urge any day now to do a donut drift in their yard!
3. Fulfilling A Toddler’s Amazingly Ambitious Bucket List
Thanks to the efforts of a brave and positive couple, one terminally ill toddler has been able to experience more excitement in his first few years on earth than most of us manage to in our lifetime. 22-month-old Zach Parnaby from the UK was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy – a terminal genetic disease that makes you lose the ability to walk as well as affecting your sight, hearing, and speech.
Little Zach had quite a long list of wishes, and his parents Lindsey and Ben devoted their time to making them come true (managing to fulfill all but three wishes on his list before his death in November 2015). Before he passed, two-year-old Zach got his wish of a pet dog, a meeting with his favourite football players, a boat trip, meeting Mickey Mouse, and a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine. Zach’s parents are campaigning to have the genetic disease screened at birth to give other babies a greater chance of fighting it.
2. The Bucket List Adventures Of Three Blind Children
Parents of three children who were slowly going blind planned out an amazing family adventure so that their kids could have a chance to see the wonders of the world. Due to a rare condition, mother of three Beth White went completely blind at the age of just 23 – a condition she sadly passed down to all three of her kids. While her children Kathryn, Sam, and Matt still had their sight which she describes as “fading into darkness,” she aimed to give them some amazing memories.
Mrs. White and her husband have so far been able to take their kids on a zip-lining adventure in New Zealand and a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. Tragically, 11-year-old Sam said he always had dreams of being a pilot, but along with his siblings, he can now only make out distant objects. While the White children continue to have as many “must-see” adventures as they can, researchers at the Children’s Medical Institute are developing a possible treatment that involves transforming skin cells to new eye cells.
1. A 102-Year-Old Retiree Who Asked To Be Arrested
We don’t know what it is with little old ladies wanting to get in trouble with the police on this list, but here’s another story of an elderly lady who’s ultimate dream was to be thrown into a police car and taken to the station. 102-year-old Edie Simms from Missouri didn’t quite get her wish of being “thrown” into a police car, but she was “gently lowered” into the back of a police cruiser while in handcuffs.
Police officers in St. Louis heard about Edie’s bizarre wish to be arrested and were more than happy to fulfill an old lady’s wish. “We love it and we get more out of it than the seniors do” revealed Sgt. John McLaughlin. I wouldn’t bet on it – Mrs. Simms seemed to have the time of her life as police took her – handcuffs and all – to a nearby senior residential home. Seems like this mischievous centenarian wanted as much local attention from her fake arrest as possible!