A woman who was battling pancreatic cancer in Arlington, VA got to indulge in a sweet treat before she passed away. While in hospice, her dying wish was to enjoy a cold and creamy milkshake from one of her favorite restaurants in her hometown. Where is her hometown? 365 miles away in Cleveland Heights, OH. How was this going to work?
Emily Pomeranz had battled and beaten multiple types of cancer during her 50 years on this earth. When her pancreatic cancer returned, she was in a hospice when a friend asked her if she needed anything. She had some requests.
This special shake that she is talking about it from Tommy’s Restaurant, a famous Cleveland-area restaurant that was originally a soda fountain in the 1970s. Sam Klein was a childhood friend of Pomeranz so he knew how good a Tommy’s milkshake was. [Editor's note: I too am from Cleveland and can attest that their milkshakes are the BOMB.] They attended elementary school and junior high together and then kept in touch over the years and then reconnected when they both moved to the Washington D.C area.
Klein started working on her request right away. He sent an email to the restaurant through their website. Then a few days later, he got a phone call from the owner himself, Tommy Fello. Klein was excited that he even heard back from the restaurant at all, let alone from Tommy.
So, how do you get a milkshake to travel 365 miles? Fello and Klein worked together to try to figure out the logistics. Tommy’s local ice cream supplier Pierre’s donated the dry ice for packing and the plan was to ship it overnight via UPS.
Klein offered to pay the shipping costs, but Fello insisted on paying. He wanted his milkshake to be a gift from the restaurant and picked up the tab. So, how much did shipping this milkshake cost? Take a guess.
Fello shipped the milkshake out at 6 p.m. and the milkshake was in Pomeranz’s hand at 8:45 a.m. the next morning.
“I had kept it a secret and sure enough she called that morning and said, ‘I am sure you are behind this. This is the most incredible thing ever. Tommy’s sent me a mocha milkshake!’ And we had a good laugh.” Klein recounted.
“She lived off that memory for weeks. She came over for dinner more than once and that’s all we talked about. How fun is that that she got something from Tommy’s? Rather than feel like she was just another person with cancer, Tommy made her feel like a superstar.”
Unfortunately, Pomeranz passed away on July 28th. After her passing, Klein posted a photo of his dear friend, milkshake in hand, with their story on Facebook. The post went viral making Emily a real-life superstar.
“I joked with my colleagues and my family that wow, Emily wanted to be famous but she had no idea that this was gonna happen.”
When the post went viral, the response made Tommy Fello also feel like a superstar. He received thank-you messages from all over the world. Letters from Canada, Germany, Scotland, the Netherlands and even Turkey expressing their gratitude and admiration.
When asked about the milkshake, Fello said that he thinks the shake, "brought her back to somewhere warm and comforting with her family and friends."
The mocha milkshake that he sent to her just happens to be one of the Fello’s favorite comfort foods, too. He was happy to bring comfort to Emily during her rough time. He was so grateful that Klein reached out for help. He noted how often people people say, "I wish there was something I could do." This time, he said, "I had my chance to do something."