History of Make a Wish As we begin a new push to collect money for the Western Kentucky chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation many people wonder why Western Kentucky would need it's own chapter. But the reason is pretty clear: Children in Western Kentucky are susceptible to get really sick. Many dangers in this area cause lifethreatening disease. Agriculture is one of the biggest businesses in Western Kentucky. But that’s a huge danger for the children. Falling from a tractor, chemicals in the water or getting in touch directly with the chemicals are the biggest threats. And because the immune system of children isn’t that strong as it is from adults, they can get really sick by this. And sometimes the disease is so terrible that these children can’t be healed like when they suffer from cancer or the Green Tobacco Sickness. Their life will be too short to experience everything and to fulfill some of their wishes. Thanks to the chapter of Make A Wish more wisher of sick children in western Kentucky can be fulfilled. But how did the story of the organization start? Imagine your child or the child of your friend has an inoperable brain tumor. What would you do? Most people would try that this short life is fulfilled and the child has at least a wonderful life. Paige Duwall, the chairperson and founder of Make a Wish Western Kentucky, was in such a situation. Sophie, the 7 year old daughter of a friend f her, had an inoperable brain tumor and would never get older than 10. Duwall wanted Sophie to have a beautiful life. “And then I read an article about Make A Wish. Sophie always wanted to be a princess and go to a princess ball. So why not fulfill her dream?”, Duwall said. She told her friend about the organization and they sent the wish to Make A Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. But the organization was so busy with wishes that she wasn't sure that Sophie's wish will be granted before her death. Because of this Paige Duwall started to plan a princess ball for Sophie on her own. She asked an orchestra if they would play the music, asked people for some donations, rented the location, organized the decoration. Many people started to help her after they heard what she was planning. So the princess ball could finally take place. It was in a gymnasium, decorated like a castle with a huge table like the Round Table. All her friends were dressed up like princesses and princes waiting for Sophie to enter the room. An orchestra played her favorite song when Sophie entered the gymnasium. She wore a beautiful pink princess dress and a tiara. With a big smile she walked down the aisle to her chair. The whole afternoon she and her friends enjoyed the music, the food and all the funny games. “Sophie was so happy at that day. I'm really thankful that Paige and all the others did all this for her. I've never saw her so happy as at this day. Her dream became true,” Sophie's mother said. A few months after her ball Sophie was hospitalized and died a few weeks later. But this event was the trigger for Paige Duwall to help more sick children in Western Kentucky. After a meeting with the manager of Make A Wish she
succeeded to convince them that there is a need for Make A Wish Western Kentucky. Because of this chapter children can be helped faster. The Story of Make A Wish started very similar to the one of Make A Wish Western Kentucky. Chris Greicius, 7, diseased at leukemia in 1980. His biggest dream was to become a police officer and catch the bad boys, but he was so ill that he would never do that. A friend of the family, U.S. customs Agent Tommy Austin, wanted to fulfill this lifetime dream before the boy died. After talking to a few people, the officers of Arizona Department of Public Safety helped to make Chris' dream become true. On April 29 the Arizona officers took Chris and his parents by helicopter do their headquarters. There he was given a Smokey Bear hat and his own badge was inducted as an honorary DPS officer. Chris became first and only honorary DPS officer. The reactions from the officers were s enthusiastic that they pitched in to order him a uniform. The young Boy passes May 2. Happy that his wish was granted. By November 1980 that enthusiasm turned one wish into an organization that raised money to grant wishes to lot of children in Arizona and eventually across the United States. By 2003 the organization has spread to Western Kentucky. And now every year 27 terminally ill and very sick children in Western Kentucky are granted wishes.
Ways to Help Every child gets asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Responses include: Police officer, Lawyer, Rock-star, etc. Many children grow up to fulfill their life-long dreams of success and tribulation. A rare few do not get to experience what they have always hoped and wished for. A rare few don’t even get to grow up. It’s sad, but this is the truth of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers are apart of one of the most magical organizations in the world. They help create magic by volunteering their time and commitment. The magic created from each wish experience helps these children in many facets of their lives. The experiences promote happiness, prolonged health, and satisfaction to the wish child and his/her family. Most of our volunteers report an increased sense of compassion and increased faith in humanity after volunteering for just one wish granting experience. One recent wish granting experience stands out. Our volunteers made magic happen for one very special boy, one beautiful day in November. One of the Make-AWish kids Miles made a wish to be Batkid. Miles is a 5- year-old boy fighting a very adult battle, one that we all hope he will win. Miles has leukemia. He is a bright, special kid who finds inspiration and hope from superheroes. In February of this year he was referred for a wish. In March, Make-A-Wish volunteers started planning Miles’ wish experience. Wish granters along with the coordination of Miles’ family and his doctors
decided November would be the best time to bring his wish to life because Miles would be done with treatments and it worked best for his parents work schedule. On November 15th, Miles received his wish courtesy of the 20,000 volunteers that helped make it happen! The day began with a mock breaking news story. The San Francisco Police Chief asked if anyone knew where Batkid was because the people of the Bay Area needed his help to fight crime and capture villains. Batkid, along with adult Batman, came to the rescue. After capturing the Penguin and defeating the Riddler, Batkid ended the day at City Hall where he discovered the mayor Ed Lee and the Police Chief waiting for him. They congratulated him on his achievement of justice and presented him with the key to the city. A huge crowd of volunteers and donors were at the event applauding and thanking Batkkid! Now, Batkid can rest assured that the people of San Francisco are safe. The most complex placement in the volunteer program is becoming a Wish Granter. As a member of this “wish team”, wish granters meet with the family, discover the wish child’s heartfelt wish, and act as liaison between the Make-A-Wish staff and the wish family during the process. Wish granters must be a minimum of 21 years old. Attendance at an in-depth training session is required. Wish granters especially helped make Miles’ wish experience to become Batkid come to life. Every volunteer position is beyond valuable to the Make-A-Wish mission. If placed in Fundraising, it’s the volunteer’s job to assist the development team in seeking out donations, write grant or scholarship proposals, and collaborate with local companies to build partnerships. Other duties in this placement include: research on
campaigns, organizing a frequent flier campaign, sell paper Make-A-Wish stars, or plan an event that benefits Make-A-Wish. For instance, Walk For Wishes is a nationwide fundraiser that celebrates the thousands of wishes that have been granted, while raising funds for future wishes. By participating in one of the 75 walks around the country, volunteers can help make the magic of a wish experience happen in their community. Fundraising is a huge integral part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Events are planned by our volunteers to help fundraise for our mission. These events help promote our cause and grab the attention of those who are unaware of it. Events help raise money and gather donations. Volunteers can work on an event committee that helps plan, organize, and implement these special events. For instance, “A Toast To Wishes” is an event that is happening November 21, 2013. This event is hosted by the New Leadership Council of Make-A-Wish Metro and in Western New York. A Toast To Wishes is a special evening dedicated to helping raise funds and awareness for this fantastic cause. It is a celebration of the organization’s 30th anniversary and will help raise an excess of $500,000. For more info go to: www.toasttowishes.com Some volunteers like to work more behind the scenes and our office seems to be the perfect place for them. In the office you answer phone calls, assist with projects, research on wishes, distribute mailings, etc. While some volunteers like to make their voices heard! They seem to enjoy being apart of the Speakers Bureau. In this placement volunteers speak at local events, schools, businesses, and in different communities all around increasing support and awareness for Make-A-Wish. John Ott, a Speaker’s Bureau member, began his Make-A-Wish journey ten years ago, when his daughter
became a wish child while battling a very serious brain tumor. He is named “The Transporter” for stopping at offices all over to help out with wishes. He frequently shares his story as a valuable speaker at our events. All Make-A-Wish volunteers have a unique and inspiring story to share. Whether it’s from volunteering on a wish experience or a personal story of their very own. In every placement position our volunteers are helping to make children’s lives better in a unique and promising way. It doesn’t matter whether you can give a few minutes, an hour, or a few days each year. Make-A-Wish is dependent on a team of generous and committed volunteers. Without our volunteers, wish granting for children like Miles would cease to exist. Volunteers are the backbone of the Make-AWish mission.
Most Common Wishes Although the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes of all shapes and sizes, the vast majority of granted wishes fall into one of four categories. They are wishes to go somewhere, wishes to be something, wishes to have something, wishes to meet someone. Over 40% of wishes granted by the Make A Wish foundation include Disney. Most of these fall under the “wish to go somewhere” category. Disney World, Disney Land, and Disney Cruises offer Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, and of course the Disney magic that appeal to the whole family. Make A Wish typically grants a weeklong, all expense paid vacation for the child, his or her parents or guardians, and siblings under the age of eighteen. Other popular destinations include other theme parks like Gold Coast or popular destinations like Hawaii. The wish that gave birth to the whole idea of the Make A Wish Foundation was granted to a seven-year-old leukemia patient who wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. The wishes to be something are often the most elaborately coordinated. One 13-year-old cancer patient was granted the chance of being a superhero. The Seattle Police Department along with the Seattle Sounders soccer team and a stadium full of fans were all involved. Young Erik “Neutron Boy” Martin received a call that the Sounders had been captured in the Qwest Stadium locker room by the evil “Dr. Dark.” Neutron boy showed up at Qwest Stadium to resounding encouragement and with the aid of his sidekick “Lightning Lad,” Neutron boy was able to rescue all of the Sounders from the locker room.
Although some wishes involve the work of hundreds of people like this one, some are made special by as few as just one person. For many wish kids, the chance to meet one of their favorite celebrities is the epitome of a wish coming true. Actors, athletes, musicians, and rappers are often called upon to share some of their time with ailing children. One little girl, suffering with sickle cell anemia, realized her dream of meeting the President on August 12, 2012 when she toured the White House with President Barrack Obama. Some celebrities have a long-standing relationship with Make-A-Wish. World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler John Cena currently holds the record for most popular Make-A-Wish celebrity having granted over 300 wishes. The WWE alone is responsible for 140 wishes on average every year. Other big name celebrities with impressive wish lists include basketball superstars like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant with around 200 and 100 wishes respectively under their belts. Some wishes are simply a wish to have something special. One 16-year-old wish kid had his truck customized while another 8-year-old wish kid asked for her very own pink playhouse. These are sometimes tricky for the foundation because their criteria for eligible wishes restrict what kind of gifts can be given. The foundation does not grant wishes for anything that could cause a long-term financial obligation for the family. This typically includes things like houses or cars that involve taxes and maintenance costs that could potentially be a financial burden to the family of the recipient.
This helps to keep the spirit of Make A Wish alive. The foundation continues to grant once-in-a-lifetime wishes to children in need, making lifetime lasting memories and more importantly, giving them hope.
Gracey’s Story As a typical 8-year-old girl you would think that the interests would be who is the cute boy in class, or what you are going to wear to your sports practice after school but this is not the case for Gracey. Gracey suffers from cystic fibrosis and when the neighborhood kids are out running the streets she has to worry about getting her treatments done so she does not have to get admitted to the hospital. Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body and is a life-threatening disorder. Daily treatments take up to 3 hours and must be done at least twice a day. Jennifer, Gracey’s mom, was able to get her approved as a wish kid after realizing that she wanted her daughter to be able to enjoy her wish and not wait till she was admitted to the hospital again, so here is where Gracey’s story begins. “Hollywood, going on a family trip to the beach or meeting Kid President,” said Gracey when asked by Make-A-Wish volunteer Tina Tomlinson. It was then arranged that Gracey would be making her ultimate wish trip to Hollywood. June 26 was a day Gracey would never forget. After playing with a friend all day Gracey thought she was coming home to just a normal night of playing Wii and helping with her brothers but when she was greeted at the door it was clearly a different kind of night. Balloons, cupcakes, Hollywood signs and all of Gracey’s favorite people lined the living room and upon entering the living room she had no idea of what was happening. “Gracey, you are going to Hollywood!” was yelled by all that had come to celebrate this special little girl.
Completely blown away and with eyes filled with tears of joy, Gracey could not believe what was happening. Her parents eventually explained that her wish was being granted and that they were leaving tomorrow on a trip of a lifetime with no brothers. Picked up in a limo and driven to the airport with her Make-A-Wish shirt on for the beginning of the royal treatment. Upon boarding the plane Gracey was asked if she would like to help out with passing of snacks so she was given an apron and stewardess button as she walked down the aisles asking pretzels or peanuts. As they arrived in Hollywood these dreams started becoming a reality. During the week that they were there, Gracey was treated to an exclusive tour of the American Girl Doll factory where she picked out her own doll. She toured the homes of all the local stars that live there, but perhaps the best part was she got to walk down the red carpet with some very big stars. While on the plane to Hollywood they had met Mark Summers who was able to arrange for Gracey and family to be able to go to Americaâ€™s Got Talent, one of her favorite shows. Before the show they were shown around the stage for the Price is Right, and even got to spin the famous wheel. Seated directly behind the judges, they were treated to the best seats in the house. As the show went on through commercial breaks and such they began talking to Sharon Osborne, Howie Mandel and Piers Morgan and they quickly realized how special this little girl was. After the show was over Sharon leaned back to Gracey and asked if she would like to accompany her to the red carpet.
While walking down the red carpet, holding Sharon Osborne’s hand Gracey’s eyes twinkled with excitement and pure joy. She was feeling like such a star that they even questioned her amongst the stars on press row. “Who is your favorite judge,” asked a reporter? “Well I love Sharon and Howie but I really don’t like Piers,” answered Gracey as the crowd around chuckled about her honesty and innocence. As the trip concluded and they made the journey back home they found themselves in awe of this organizations power and those people who helped to make it such a royal week for Gracey, a week she will never forget.