We at Family First Magazine would like to spotlight local community organizations that are making a difference in the Valley. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California makes wishes come true and changes lives every day! This organization deserves to be celebrated and recognized and I am honored to be able to spotlight them in the premiere issue of this magazine.
“No one ever dreams and plans to have a sick child…how quickly dreams fade away as the reality of life with a sick child sets in. Words cannot express how Make-A-Wish has given new hope and strength to our entire family.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation believes that children are energized by a wish and that a wish enables a child to imagine, plan, anticipate and eventually rejoice in its fulfillment. A wish is also a moment of joy, fantasy and laughter in the midst of a darker time in a child’s life and in the life of the child’s family.
Wish kids are just like your kids, my kids, your grandkids, or the neighbor kids. They want to laugh and be silly, run outside and play with their friends. The difference is that their childhood has been placed on hold. Instead of carefree days of toys and games, their hours are filled with appointments, countless tests, needle sticks, rounds of chemo, surgeries, and long nights away from home.
Wish kids endure the stress of prolonged medical treatment as well as the pain and fear of their illness. Their siblings are often sidelined by the care required for the sick sibling, and their parents face the stress of hiding their own heartbreak in order to support the family.
By providing a special wish experience, the Make-A-Wish Foundation provides a much needed dose of hope, strength and joy to the entire family. The Foundation takes care of all the planning and all costs associated with the wish. Whether it’s meeting their favorite celebrity, going on a shopping spree, swimming with dolphins, or any number of special wishes, the wish experience can give back what the illness takes away. It can help a child forget about being sick, and inspire him or her to keep making plans for the future. Making a “wish” provides an opportunity for imagination and hope to take flight, and replaces thoughts of treatments and hospital visits.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California is a chapter of the national organization Make-A-Wish Foundation of America that was founded in 1980 after 7 year old Christopher realized his dream of becoming an honorary police officer, complete with his very own uniform and badge. Chris’s extraordinary wish served as the inspiration for the largest wish granting organization in the world. The Make-A-Wish Foundation now has 62 chapters in the United States and its territories and 36 international affiliates. Over 213,000 wishes to date have been granted worldwide.
The Central California Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in 1986 and over the course of 26 years has granted more than 1,600 wishes, serving children in the counties of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare.
The Foundation covers all of the expenses associated with the fulfillment of the child’s wish, which on an average amount to between $5 and $6,000. These funds are raised through volunteers, individuals and corporations in the Central Valley and the Foundation receives no government funding.
There are fun and creative ways that the community can help. For example, Kids for Wish Kids is a program in which local students are helping to raise funds for local kids’ wishes. Another example is the Adopt-A-Wish program in which companies can sponsor a kid’s wish. Also, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® is a national beneficiary for Macy’s Thanks for Sharing program. When you use your Macy’s card, now through December 31, you can help grant wishes while accumulating rewards for your purchases. Macy’s also raises money for the Foundation through Believe, an inspirational campaign that last year generated a $1 million donation from Macy’s through children’s letters to Santa.
“We never turn away a medically eligible child,” said Diana Rambo, Executive Director. In an effort to dispel a prevalent misconception, Rambo stressed that even though the selected children suffer from life-threatening medical conditions, they do not have to be terminally ill. “Most of our children who receive wishes go on to live normal lives,” she said.
My wish changed my life because I realized that I don’t have to look at myself as someone who is sick all the time. Make-A-Wish gave me hope at a time when I needed it most. This experience is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
It is usually many simple acts that contribute to the big picture of making a child’s wish come true. I encourage you, the reader, to Like the Facebook fan page of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central California Chapter. This will allow for you to stay abreast on how you can be part of local events. Also, it will allow you to hear adorable wish kid stories and keep you informed about volunteer opportunities.