Earlier this year I decided to become more involved with the Make-A-Wish organization by becoming a trained “Wish Granter”. In this role I will have the opportunity to meet with sick children and their families to assist them in figuring out their “wish”. Once the wish has been approved I will be part of the “wish reveal”. Can you imagine what a joyful event that is?
To offer some background as to why we chose to support Make-A-Wish it goes back to when Katie was diagnosed.
I can remember walking the halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital with Katie and seeing sick children with their pic lines being pulled in wagons by their parents, or other loving care givers. It was heart breaking. Katie would find it so hard to imagine if it were Gracie or another child we loved going through what she was experiencing. While I agreed, I didn’t tell her how deeply I could relate – she was my child.
When Emily, Katie’s good friend, suggested the idea of the first “Birthday Benefit” and raising funds for Verona High School Scholarships I thought it was a great idea. But after some thought, I felt there needed to be something else related to the person Katie had become since graduating from high school.
Without really knowing much about Make-A-Wish, except they helped sick children, I felt a pull to investigate. Who knows maybe it was Katie nudging me in the right direction.
What I’ve Learned About Make-A-Wish
In the past two years I’ve learned a great deal about the inner workings of Make-A-Wish. We’ve worked with Rebecca the director and Jade her assistant (who incidentally is a close friend of the Sweeney/Pesature families and she and Katie were both in Kaylan’s wedding – another one of those uncanny coincidences). Both are warm, giving and fun to be around – but most importantly LOVE granting wishes to their “Wish Kids” as they call them. However, there remained a nagging concern.
Make-A-Wish Isn’t Need-Based
There is one concern/question we’ve been asked regarding Make-A-Wish that caused me to pause a bit. It has to do with every child, regardless of financial need is granted their wish (if humanly possible and approved). I wondered if perhaps only those children with the greatest financial need should be granted their wish? Especially when some families could easily afford their own gifts or experiences. I didn’t know the answer so I raised this question during our training. (On average the cost of each wish is $6500.00).
Their simple response was that it isn’t about the money. They explained that it is about giving a sick child some joy. It’s about giving the caregivers a break and providing a “planned” experience where the family is given the opportunity to feel “normal”. I know, from personal experience, you can’t put a price tag on those things.
If someone would have given us the option to do something just for Katie that was joy filled, something I wouldn’t have to plan or figure out and would give us a respite from the challenging journey we found ourselves traveling. I/We would have SO welcomed it. Katie wasn’t a young child and we weren’t juggling careers (we were retired). Katie’s husband Peter had really good health insurance so we didn’t have the anxiety of mounting medical bills, and, as older parents, we didn’t have younger siblings to worry about. In so many ways our journey was without many of the stresses that these families endure every day. And, that’s without even addressing the FEAR that is with you every moment. The mental and physical toll is hard to imagine if you haven’t been through it.
I’ve also learned that many of these families give back to the “Make-A-Wish” organization through donations, fundraisers like ours, and in some cases, they become personally involved in the organization. Most pay it forward.
Our “Wish Kids”
We Believe in Katie has granted wishes to Ethan Gloria, Ilya and now Dominic who will be receiving his wish in the next several months. We know Katie would be so pleased to have granted these wishes and brought some joy to these kids!
As I attended the training and watched videos, heard stories, met other volunteers and learned more about this incredible organization I knew I was in the right place. I know Katie was guiding me and helping me find yet, another way to “do something positive” in her spirit and the loving way she tried to live her life here with us.
Please help us grant more wishes and meet our “wish kids” at our spring benefit on April 27th!