If you don’t know how the Make A Wish foundation began, the story is one of the most inspiring stories you’ll ever hear. It began thirty years ago after a seven year old boy with Leukemia, Chris Grecius, wished he could be a police officer for a day. When those involved witnessed the joy and laughter it brought Chris and his family, they thought about the possibilities of making other children’s wishes and dreams come true. So together, they founded the Chris Greicius Make-A-Wish® Memorial, which is known today as Make-A-Wish®.
Today, Make-A-Wish grants wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions. While you may know the story of Chris Grecius, I’d like to share a personal story with you. My best friend’s nephew, Ryan Hatfield, was born with Cystic Fibrosis. When he was seven years old, Make-A-Wish notified his family, they were granting his wish to visit Walt Disney World. A few days before they were scheduled to fly from Indiana to Orlando, Ryan broke his leg.
With a heavy heart, his parents contacted the folks at Make-A-Wish to cancel the trip. Can you imagine the elation they felt when they were told, “No way you’re canceling, we’ll work around his broken leg, and make arrangements so he won’t have to walk around the park.” Determined to make Ryan’s wish come true, and enable him to experience the magic of Disney World, they had a different Disney character push him in a wheelchair everyday. I know Ryan felt like a rock star, as Chip and Dale rolled him to the front of the line at every ride.
When talking about the experience his Aunt said,
“The thing about Make-A-Wish is that they make the kids feel normal. Whatever it is they are going through, Make-A-Wish works around that. The kid gets to be a kid. They provided top notch medical help (at least at Disney), and took care of arranging all supplies and equipment . Everything he needed for his treatments was there waiting on him. It also takes the pressure off of the parents. They even provided a baby sitter for my nephews and paid for their parents to go out to dinner one night alone!” Heather Sawyer
In Ryan’s world, his days revolved around breathing treatments, medication, and hoping he was able to attend school, instead of spending more time at the doctor’s office or a hospital. Like every child he dreamed of visiting Walt Disney World, but he also wanted more than anything to be like all the other “healthy” kids. By granting his wish, he was able to travel, just like other kids.
Source: Make A Wish Facebook
Since Make A Wish was founded in 1980, they’ve granted more than 226,000 children’s wishes in the United States. Last year, they were able to grant 14,000 wishes. Incredible!
Almost 75% of wishes involve air travel, which is the largest cost associated with wishes. It would take approximately 50,000 airline tickets, the equivalent of 2.5 billion airlines miles or $37.5 million, each year to cover the expenses incurred with sending wish kids and their families to and from their incredible experiences.
So this month, Make-A-Wish is asking for your help. They’re asking for you to donate your miles or money to Make-A-Wish and help wish kids take flight. Every mile and dollar they receive helps reduce wish costs, enabling the foundation to reach more kids with life-threatening medical conditions. In celebration of April 29, World Wish Day, United Airlines will match donations of their MileagePlus® members, up to 3 million miles, through April 30. Also, WWE® Superstar John Cena® has committed to personally match every frequent flier mile donated in April, up to 4.5 million!!!!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYUShnWosgk]Ryan Hatfield, my good friend and Heather’s nephew, was just 24 when he passed away 3 years ago. Ryan left a lasting impression on everyone that met him, just like Make-A-Wish has a positive impact on the children and the families they help. A 2011 study on the impact of wishes, discovered health professionals believe fulfilled wishes often have a positive effect on the child’s physical health.
Ryan Hatfield 6/26/86- 10/28/10
You don’t have to be a superhero to Make-A-Wish take off! Are you ready to help a wish come true?
This year, 10,000 wish kids and their families will travel for a Make-A-Wish® experience. That’s 50,000 roundtrip tickets or 2.5 billion frequent flier miles. In honor of World Wish Day®, the day of the wish that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish, visit wish.org/tickets and donate miles and dollars – and help wish kids take flight.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Make-A-Wish®. The opinions and text are all mine.