We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.
Founded in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation ® is a charity devoted to serving children with life-threatening illnesses by fulfilling their wishes. With 25,000 volunteers working worldwide, the foundation has granted wishes for over 97,000 children, giving them the opportunity to experience “moments of hope, strength, and joy.” The Make-A-Wish Foundation ® is the largest charity of its kind in the world. There are 78 chapters across the United States and its territories, and 25 international affiliates on 5 continents.
The foundation serves children under the age of 18 whose doctors have confirmed their medical eligibility. If the child has received a wish from another wish-granting organization, s/he is not eligible. Children can be referred by parents or guardians, medical professionals (social workers and child-life specialists as well as doctors and nurses), or the children themselves. (To make a referral, go to http://www.wish.org/home/frame_findus.htm .)
A child’s condition does NOT have to be terminal for him/her to be eligible. In fact, the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s 2002 calendar spotlights former wish children who are now healthy adults.
Most wish requests fall into four major categories:
- I wish to go
Some Make-A-Wish kids want to travel to their favorite theme park, while others want to visit an exotic beach, go on a cruise, see snow for the first time, or attend a major sporting event or concert.
- I wish to be
Children search the depths of their imagination when they wish to be someone for a day – a fireman, a police officer, or a model, for instance.
- I wish to meet
Many want to meet their favorite athlete, recording artist, television personality, movie star, politician, or public figure.
- I wish to have
Children often wish for a special gift, like a computer, a tree house, a shopping spree, or something that they have coveted for a long time. *
The Make-A-Wish Foundation ® is financed through corporate contributions, individual donations, foundation grants, planned gifts, and chapter fees and assessments. They do NOT telemarket, they do not deal in chain letters—although you may have received requests from similar sounding organizations to continue a chain mailing (see http://www.wish.org/home/frame_chainletters.htm ). If you would like to provide financial support for this foundation, you can do so by purchasing calendars, note cards, or holiday cards, donating airline miles or making a tax-deductible contribution; see http://www.wish.org/home/frame_give.htm for more information.
Thus ends the factual section of this writeup. The heartbreaking stuff is below.
Christy is 12, or thereabouts, and she has cancer. She attended a private school for children with learning disabilities—in fact, her family had moved to this state so that she could attend as a day student—until this fall, when she became too weak to come to school. Christy had gone through surgeries and painful treatments in the past, and the cancer had been in remission, but this time it is inoperable.
Christy’s family is very devout and dedicated to helping others, and Christy herself is one of the most cheerful, uncomplaining, happy kids you would hope to meet. She has kept in contact with her friends at school, and we have kept a steady stream of cards, prayers, and visits headed her way. Although she spends most of her time in a wheelchair at this point, she managed to walk down the aisle at her older brother’s wedding, Thanksgiving weekend.
Christy’s family was recently contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation®, and in vintage Christy style, she turned down any special wish, telling the representatives that her life has been a full one and that she didn’t need anything else.
But then, Christy had an idea—she has a wonderful friend from her old school, who still lives in the old neighborhood, hundreds of miles away, and she hadn’t been able to visit her for financial reasons. Christy contacted the foundation and made her wish—that she and her friend and their families visit over Christmas. Christy and her family traveled up to the friend’s home, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided for a visit to the mall and a sumptuous Christmas feast for the two families—surely a memory that they would always treasure.
I had a hard time deciding whether to share this story, which is absolutely true, with just the name changed. I know it’s heart wrenching. It’s also a lesson in love and caring, a reminder to focus on all of the good things that we have. Hold your loved ones tight this holiday season, and be grateful for what you have.
”Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” –Charles Dickens
______________________________________Make-A-Wish information from the official website; * http://www.wish.org/home/frame_aboutus.htm Christy’s story from a holiday letter sent by the director of my school.