Make A Wish
● By Brandi Barnett
Making Dreams Come True for Special ChildrenMarch 2007
By Melissa Gulden
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true”…Fitting lyrics for the magic of The Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The largest wish-granting organization in the world, The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.With 69Make-A-Wish chapters and 30 international affiliates, the local chapter, based in Sacramento, turns 25 this year. Since its inception in 1983, The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Sacramento and Northeastern California has granted more than 2,600 wishes in 24 counties, from the Oregon border to Stockton and San Joaquin County.
Bridget Walsh, regional development manager, oversees the region’s “wish volunteers” and is
a liaison for the North State. “We can’t cure any illnesses,”Walsh said. “But at least we can
provide hope, strength and joy.”
The children must be referred to the program—the foundation cannot solicit any child—
and then must be cleared through his or her doctor. The volunteers then go to the child’s home
and play the “wishing game.” The wishes are separated into 4 categories: I want to go, I want to meet, I want to have, I want to be. The game helps to break the wishing down so that the child realizes he can have anything his heart desires.
“The wish can be Disneyland, but it can also be anything,” said Walsh. “It allows them to explore their imagination and open up their world.”
And then the work comes in—granting a wish that best reflects the child. Every need, every expense is anticipated when granting a wish.
“We encourage the whole family in the wish. It’s not just the child that’s affected by the
illness; it’s the siblings too,” said Walsh.
A couple of Wish children from the North State have gone as far as London to meet the cast of the Harry Potter movies and actor Johnny Depp. No wish is too big, no dream too far-fetched for the “dream team.” Sometimes the foundation has to rush a wish, based on the nature of the child’s illness. But there is always hope. “We can’t quantify what a wish can do, but we see the difference in their spirit,” said Walsh.
Granting wishes to children with life-threatening conditions provides no miracle cure, but the wish can be a rallying point—one that makes a difference in the course of an illness. The wish experience offers a break from the hospitals and treatments. It is a reason to smile, a reason to hope.
This month, the foundation hosts its biggest fundraiser, the Radio-Thon, sponsored by Results Radio. The two-day live broadcast and silent auction takes place at theMt. Shasta Mall on March 22-23, and features Wish Kids sharing their stories live on the air.
“It’s imperative to get the word out,” says Walsh. “There are 28 wishes pending in the North State and our goal is (to grant) 230. Last year we granted 225.” The money stays local, with 82 percent of every dollar pledged going directly to the program.With an average wish cost of $6,000, every donation helps.Wishes range from puppies and computers, to trips to Disneyland and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the Make-A-Wish goal to grant every child’s wish, providing the chance for North State kids to be kids again and experience joy. “Redding welcomes Make-A-Wish with open arms,” said Walsh. “It’s a really generous community.”�