game changer WINTER 2013
inspiring stories of hope, strength and joy
Game Changer? Make-A-Wish has been referred to by volunteers, parents, and others as a “game changer” for wish kids battling life-threatening illnesses. In a recent Wish Impact Study, results showed that after the wish is granted, wish kids are empowered to take back control of their lives and keep up the fight against their life-threatening medical condition. Here is a look at some important numbers that represent the power of a wish! 99% of parents reported that the wish experience gave their children increased feelings of happiness. 97% of adult former wish kids say they experience improved mental and emotional health 89% of nurses, doctors, social workers and child life specialists surveyed say they believe that the wish experience can influence wish kids’ physical health
a new focus...
Dianna, a wish parent turned Board of Directors member, revealed to us in a meeting that her son’s wish was a “game changer”. This term resonated in our hearts, so we decided to focus our newsletter on game changing stories of hope, strength and joy. Below is Dianna’s reflection of her son’s “game changer”: When my son, Cade, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13, video games became his lifeline to the outside world. They provided a way for him to spend time with his friends without having to leave the protection of his bedroom or hospital room. In December of 2009, Make-A-Wish Mississippi sent Cade to Bellevue, Washington to visit Bungie. Bungie created his favorite video game, Halo. It was a once in a lifetime trip that was a game changer for Cade. Cade had spent a year and a half in and out of the hospital and cancer clinic fighting for his life. It was that trip that renewed his fight and essentially changed his game of life. He began to think about his future and how he could work in the video game industry and get paid for his favorite hobby. That visit opened a whole new world to him that he would have otherwise never known. The shy child that never spoke to adults found complete strangers that spoke his language. His favorite part of the trip was playing the Halo game with nineteen Bungie employees together in one big room. He found his voice through video games. That visit was one of the best days of Cade’s life. We once again saw the smile that had been hidden underneath the face of cancer. Thus, that trip changed Cade’s game. For more stories of hope, strength and joy, visit our website at ms.wish.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
game changer spotlight Kristi Harrison is the definition of a Game Changer. Just a few months ago, Kristi joined the Make-A-Wish Mississippi team as a wish granter. Since then, she has already granted the wishes of two girls and took on the role as lead volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Fear the Okra 5K and Fun Run in Cleveland. When asked about her experience so far with Make-A-Wish, Kristi replied, “My experience has been wonderful and rewarding. Makes you realize tough times in your life are not so tough. I loved to see the two girls smile and laugh. Kids have a huge heart and great spirits even going through rough times”. Thank you Kristi for all of your time and hard work!
96% of parents felt the wish experience strengthened their families 92% of wish parents, 64% of volunteers, and 77% of medical professionals felt an increased trust in others THAT is the power of a wish!
Kristi and Wish Child Braxton at Fear the Okra 5K and Fun Run
Kristi and her daughter, TayCole
Jamesia’s shopping spree was my first “wish experience”, and it is one I will always remember. As a new staff member at Make-AWish Mississippi, I was not exactly sure what to expect when I was assigned my first Wish Kid. At the start of every wish, two volunteers, or “wish granters”, meet with the wish kid and family to discuss what the child’s most heartfelt wish is. Being a part of this initial process is an incredibly humbling experience. Jamesia, often referred to by her nickname, Peaches, sat in her hospital bed covered with pink blankets, pink pillows, pink everything. She was a bit shy at first, and she clung tightly to her stuffed animal monkey. Jamesia had just turned ten years old a week earlier and is currently battling bone cancer. As I sat by Jamesia’s bed, asking questions about what she liked to do at home, her favorite television shows, and her favorite games, Jamesia started opening up a little bit. Her eyes lit up when I asked her what her favorite food was, “shrimp!” she exclaimed. Then we got down to the real question, what would Jamesia wish for? Well, it did not take two seconds for her to come up with her answer. Jamesia wanted an iPad. She had played with her school teacher’s iPad before she was admitted to the hospital. Jamesia named game after game that she loved to play on an iPad, she said it would definitely keep her busy while she was in the hospital. The excitement beamed from her face when we told her that she would not only receive an iPad but would also get to go on a shopping spree wherever she wanted to shop. When the big day finally arrived, we picked up Jamesia and her family in a white limousine. Jamesia hurried towards the limo and screamed when she saw the inside filled with balloons, gifts, and her favorite candy, skittles. Once in the limo, we told Jamesia to unwrap her first present. As she started tearing into the wrapping paper, she realized what was in her hands, a brand new iPad! I have never seen a smile as big as the smile plastered across this tiny ten year old’s face.
The first stop was at Justice, a clothing store for young girls. Inside the store, Jamesia was treated like a princess. She had her very own dressing room filled with posters and balloons. A personal shopper followed Jamesia around the store, finding her sizes and helping her pick out clothes, jewelry, and whatever her heart desired! After Jamesia had shopped ‘til she dropped at Justice, we headed over to Best Buy. The employees at Best Buy greeted Jamesia at the door with a bag full of her favorite things. Jamesia picked out a Hello Kitty iPad cover and some Hello Kitty headphones. She gushed to one of the employees all the details of her day so far, and insisted when she left that he take a box of skittles since he had been such a wonderful friend to her. Next up was a quick trip to Toys R Us, followed by lunch at Red Lobster. Jamesia ordered the shrimp lunch platter, and even went back for seconds of the grilled shrimp. As we were leaving, Jamesia was brave enough to hold one of the lobsters at the front of the restaurant. The day concluded with stops at Hibbett Sports and WalMart. We were all exhausted, and I am pretty sure Jamesia’s mom and sister fell asleep in the limo. But not Jamesia, the whole day was filled with smiles, laughter, and an abundance of energy. Even cancer could not touch the perfection of this day. I received a text message from Jamesia’s mom just a few days after the shopping spree that said “Thank you for giving my baby the ‘Greatest Day Ever.’” But the thanks all goes to Jamesia. She is a bundle of courage and an inspiration to all who come in contact with her. Like all of our wish kids, Jamesia is a true champion!
by Swayze Pentecost
Braxton, 6 I wish to go on a Disney Cruise
occlusion of the cerebral artery
Maybe it’s not all about ribbons and bows... Hope, after all, is what the holidays are truly about. It’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us. Sometimes the genuine meaning of the season is lost in shopping malls and last minute gift purchases. This holiday season, set aside a little time to read through stories of some true holiday heroes: Mississippi Wish Kids. Throughout the next few weeks during our Season of Wishes, Make-A-Wish Mississippi will share stories of hope, strength and joy for you and your friends to enjoy. You do not want to miss out on the heart warming and inspiring stories about each one of these Wish Kids. We’ve already shared Jamesia’s story, and you can find Trae’s wish reveal story on the next page. We will feature a new wish story on our website every Monday during the month of December. Be sure and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out about our special holiday suprise that will be revealed at the beginning of December.
Braxton was just like any normal six year old boy, until one morning he woke up unable to speak, swallow, or move the left side of his body. After a month in the hospital and several months in therapy, Braxton went on the trip of his dreams.
I wish to go to a Dude Ranch Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma
This dude had an incredible time at the Majestic Dude Ranch in Colorado. His favorite parts of the trip? White water rafting, horse back riding and gold panning.
I wish for an iPad
Her wish was simple. All Jamesia wanted was an iPad. The smile on her face as she opened her new iPad was priceless. Wishes can be big or small, but always full of joy.
For a sneak peek, here are small bits of the stories that you will find during our Season of Wishes.
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I wish to go on a Disney Cruise Retinoblastoma
Jolene wished to go on the big Mickey Boat. It has been a year since her trip, and her mom says that Jolene still brags about her trip on the Mickey Mouse Ship!
I wish to go to Hawaii Hodgkin’s disease
Who doesn’t love a little fun in the sun? Eden’s wish trip included parrots, a luau, snorkeling and hula dancing. At one point, Eden was even rescued by some dolphins!
I wish to go to Hawaii
Devin wish combined his love for football with a dream vacation to Hawaii. Devin’s mom wrote that Devin was “able to totally forget the word cancer and LIVE!”
ish to go to Disney World
Stay tuned for a secret holiday surpise!
bral Plasy & end stage renal disease
Trae loves bright lights and loud noises. For his wish reveal party, his wish granters planned a party e and his family will never get. Turn the page to read bout how Trae’s community surrounded him with love.
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ― Shel Silverstein
an unforgettable reveal
Wish Reveal parties provide an outlet for the whole community to get involved in the wish process and rally around the Wish Kid. That is exactly what happened with Trae’s Wish Reveal party at Back Bay Seafood Restaurant in Gulfport, Mississippi. Trae, a Saucier resident, is 17 years old and has faced more obstacles in life than a child should ever go through. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy before birth and is battling end stage renal disease. That has not stopped Trae and his family from enjoying every magical moment in life! “They gave him 24 hours to live when he was born. He will be 18 in December,” explained Jillian, Trae’s mom. Trae is a Saints fanatic, and he loves loud noises and bright lights. Amanda Bond, a longtime supporter and volunteer with Make-A-Wish Mississippi, was assigned “Lead Volunteer” for Trae. Amanda, as with all of her Wish Kids, went above and beyond a typical Wish Reveal party for Trae. When asked about Wish Reveal parties Amanda wrote “I will not only strive each and every time to make a Wish Kid’s reveal a wish to remember, I will also involve as many business, families, friends, and schools to raise awareness to this amazing Foundation.” Amanda contacted Jill to ask about their favorite restaurant. When Jill said Back Bay Seafood Restaurant, Amanda immediately called the manager of the restaurant and asked if they would like to take part in the
wish reveal party. Debra, the manager of Back Bay Seafood immediately agreed to host the party. Amanda had no idea exactly what Back Bay Seafood had in store for Trae… Over thirty guests attended the Wish Reveal party. As Trae and his family drove up to the restaurant, Trae’s friends and family lined the balcony. Everyone was armed with signs, posters, noise makers and balloons. Trae is a big fan of loud noises and bright lights, so his friends and family made as much noise as possible as he came up the balcony. They were chanting “TRAE, TRAE, TRAE!!!” as loud as their voices would allow. As the family led the happy procession inside the restaurant, the patrons dining broke out into applause and shouts. Inside the restaurant, Trae’s wish was revealed! Thanks to Cruisin’ the Coast, Trae and his family will be traveling to Walt Disney World. Back Bay Seafood had decorated the family’s table. The table was set for a King (Trae) and a princess (Trae’s sister). The restaurant was filled with fresh flowers, big blue star balloons and fresh cupcakes. Each employee had a blue star on their cheek to support Make-A-Wish. “They reached deep in their hearts and even deeper in their own pockets to make Trae’s night a night to remember! And I will be forever thankful there are people like them in this world,” said Amanda. Thanks to some very special volunteers, It was a perfect evening to celebrate Trae.
making it happen snapshots of recent sponsorships and events
Members of the Chi Omega Chapter at Mississippi State University pose for a picture with their sponsored Wish Kid, Lexie
Wish Kid Carter makes a funny face with some kids at Northwest Rankin High School
Thank you Delta State Statesmen and Lady Statesmen for volunteering at Fear the Okra 5K and Fun Run
Mary Ellis gives Morgan Stanley two thumbs up for their fantastic 5K that raised over $6,000
Wish Kid Will and his family enjoy the 2013 Mississippi Corvette Classic which raised over $10,000 for Make-A-Wish Mississippi
Winner of Cruisin’ The Coast 2013 Make-A-Wish raffle car, 1979 Pontiac Trans Am “Bandit Edition”
Make-A-Wish Mississippi 576 Highland Colony Parkway Suite 120 Ridgeland, MS 39157 GET CONNECTED!
‘tis the season to... give a gift that matters! Honor your friends and family by sharing the power of a wish! When you give through Make-A-Wish Mississippi’s Wish Catalog, you help to fulfill a child’s most heartfelt wish. For a complete list of this year’s gifts, please visit www.makeawishms.myshopify.com
How does the Wish Catalog work?
Items represented in the wish catalog illustrate components of wishes granted by Make-A-Wish Mississippi. Every Wish Catalog Gift purchased reflects our mission to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Your purchase is not a donation to a specific wish; the purchase of this gift will support Make-A-Wish Mississippi in the most effective way possible so that we can grant all eligible wishes in Mississippi. MakeA-Wish Mississippi is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and therefore all donations are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
check it out!
makeawishms.myshopify.com shop our wish catalog beginning November 29 on Black Friday!
Inspiring stories of hope, strength and joy!