His wife, Amy, was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in April and then two months later, Andy got a Stage IV lung cancer diagnosis. Cancer that had gone undetected in his lungs had metastasized to his brain. Amy is recovering after successful treatment, but Andy is still in the middle of a difficult fight.
"First we did the radiation and 10 rounds of the chemo," Andy said as he talked about his ongoing cancer treatment regimen.
Andy was nominated and selected to receive a wish from The Fill Your Bucket List Foundation, a nonprofit that provides the financial support to grant wishes for adults 18 and older with cancer. Andy and Amy had heard of the Angus Barn in Raleigh but could never afford to go ... until now.
"All the kids agreed it's what they wanted and he wanted a steak," Amy explained while patting her husband on his knee.
The Spearses, who live in Kenly, also wanted a professional family portrait in addition to some quality time around the dinner table. Tonya Palumbo, owner of T&T Photography, donated a free photo session to the family at the Angus Barn. The photo session was followed by a private visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus for the entire family including six young grandchildren.
"The family. Everyone getting together spending time," Andy said it was all he truly wanted.
This family gathering was also a very special milestone for The Fill Your Bucket List Foundation, which is based in Cary. After granting wishes for people with cancer for three years, Andy's wish was No. 100.
Peggy Carroll started the foundation after her father was diagnosed with cancer. She helped his wishes come true and wanted to do the same for others.
"We've been so blessed by the support from the community and the donors. Whether it's their time or their financial resources, (they) are the only reason we're here," Carroll said.
Donors such as Rick Thompson, who was Andy's wish creator, and Angus Barn owner Van Eure help to make dreams a reality.
"It's a way to get involved, give back to the community and make someone's life a little bit easier during a tough time," Thompson said.
Eure is overwhelmed the Spearses chose her family's restaurant as the setting for such a special moment for their family saying, "It goes so far beyond the food. It is so much about making special memories in peoples lives."
The Fill Your Bucket List Foundation is working on granting 13 new wishes through donor contributions and volunteers. The organization's main fundraiser is the Bucket Bash that is scheduled for April 13 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham.