Every thirty-eight minutes a wish is granted, a child’s dream comes true, and an unforgettable memory is made. The Make a Wish Foundation has been granting wishes for more than thirty-three years.
The Make a Wish Foundation is largest wish granting organization in the world. It has sixty-seven different chapters, thirty-three international affiliates on five continents. Development Officer Make a Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Peg Wheble shares the mission of this organization.
"Our goal is to grant the wish of every medically eligible child. Make a Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions to enrich their life with hope strength and joy."
Every year more than four-hundred eligible children get to enjoy the experience of their dreams coming true.
The four categories that the Make a Wish Foundation grants are, "I wish to be," "I wish to meet," "I wish to go," and, "I wish to have." A Make a Wish recipient fourteen year old Jasmine Paye of South Rygate Vermont, who has a rare form of cancer received her wish to meet singing sensation Justin Bieber granted a few weeks ago. Jasmine shares her experience with us.
"Make a Wish sent me to see Justin Bieber in North Carolina."
"I couldn’t sleep at all that night. He took pictures and stuff and signed stuff and then we went to his concert. I got my hat signed and my iPod and a book that he wrote and I’m the only one who got this but I got a shirt that he wore and signed. He was great and he was so nice and caring. I brought him sour patch kids and a Team jasmine shirt and Paye it forward bracelets."
Jasmine’s dream came true and she could not be happier. This is what this foundation wants, to enrich the child’s life and give them hope. Again, Peg Wheble.
"We’re told that when children wish it's often in the realm of fantasy; they wish for their illness to go away, they wish to graduate high school, and those are wish that the medical community can’t grant and that is where they tell us make a wish comes in."
"When a child is facing a life threatening medical condition makes a wish comes in and gives them the choice on what wish they want to have granted and they gain strength from that, if my wish can come true then I can also you know gain strength and believe that I can also beat my illness."
Not only has this organization enriched the child’s mind set and hope, but Wheble says by granting these wishes it can positively effect a child’s physical medical state, emotional health and social health.
"Make a Wish recently did a survey with physicians treating children whose wishes had been fulfilled and found the following: eighty-eight percent believe the wish experience influenced the child’s physical health, ninety-six observed improvements in the child’s mental emotional health, ninety-four percent believe the wish experience strengthened the child’s family support and eighty-five percent reported improvement in the child’s social health. That’s pretty impactful."
Strengthening a sick child’s hope is important, but it’s also important to help out the family involved. Having a child terminally ill impacts the entire family. Part of the wish granting process is to help family members deal and cope with the situation at hand. Again Make a Wish’s Peg Wheble.
"While we know that a wish cannot make a sick child well we do know that it offers the family, the child, a wonderful respite from hospital stays and doctors visits. We know that when there is a sick child in the family the entire family dynamic is disrupted. There’s you know maybe sometimes less time for other siblings and we do find that when kids wish to go away it’s really time for them to spend with their family and kind of regroup and leave the illness behind and just enjoy fun."
Making wishes come true for the terminally ill and their family can be expensive. Each wish has a specific amount of money to fund it. Wheble explains how this non-profit organization pays for all of these wishes.
"We receive our funds from many different sources. Individual donations, corporate donations, third party events that are done on our behalf with the proceeds coming to Make a Wish and then of course our own internal events, we also receive grants, bequests."
Although the Make a Wish Foundation cannot cure a child’s illness, it can and does bring hope and joy to the recipient and the family.
I know firsthand. That 14-year old girl who was able to meet her idol Justin Bieber? She’s my cousin, Jasmine.