From the time she was a little girl, Jeanne Hoffmaster wanted to be a clown. At age 88, she got her wish. Jeanne has been a resident of Elmcroft senior living community in Exeter Township since May. Her early days as a residentat Elmcroft were spent in sadness, and she kept to herself, mainly staying in her room. 'Then one day I decided, I may not have a lot of years left, butI am going to be happy. I just decided to live,' she said. Making Hoffmaster's wish come true was the work of Elmcroft's activities director, Fran Burkhart. 'We worked with an organization called Second Wind Dreams,which grants wishes to seniors,' she said. 'Jeanne is just such a special person, I knew I just had to do this for her.' Enter Sean Straining, who owns Clown Around Town in Harrisburg, and a graduate of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown college. Straining came to Elmcroft Nov. 15, gave Hoffmaster full clown make-up and costume, taught her to make balloon animals, and off the two of them went to St. Joe's Hospital, after entertaining some of Elmcroft's residents. 'We made a lot of people happy,' Hoffmaster said. 'We gave out sponge noses, and everyone was so nice to us. One patient still had the nose on when we were leaving the hospital. It was quite an experience.' Hoffmaster said she doesn't know where her love of clowns really comes from, but when she was younger and would tell friends about it, they didn't believe her. 'And when I was telling my grandkids, they thought it was funny,' she said. But Hoffmaster said she always remembers her mother, Maude Dickinson, as being outgoing and doing funny things. So when Straining was sitting with Hoffmaster putting on her makeup and asked, 'If you had a clown name, what would it be,' Hoffmaster didn't hesitate to say Maude - her mother's name. And Maude the Clown was born. During the hour Straining, spent putting on Hoffmater's make-up and his own, she visibly relaxed as she became Maude. 'I don't want to be a sad clown, I want to make people happy,' Hoffmaster told Straining. 'Clowns bring out the best in us all,' Straining said. Burkhart said Straining, and Michael's Classic Limousine donated their services to help make Hoffmaster's dream come true. 'Jeanne's is the first wish we're granting, and we plan to do more,' Burkhart said. 'I thought I was just going to get dressed up and go with the clown to the hospital, I had no idea there would be so many people and cameras in the room,' Hoffmaster added. 'I just wanted to make people happy, that was my aim.' Follow Donna Rovins on Twitter at @sthrnberksnews

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