When parents come to the point in their lives where they may be blessed with children, their one true wish is that their child will be healthy. In many cases, their wish is granted; unfortunately, some families are not so lucky and that’s why the Make-A-Wish Foundation was started. Collaboratively, thousands of wish granters and volunteers across the country and U.S. territories work to give these children their “one true wish”.
Make-A-Wish is a non-profit organization that seeks to grant the “one true wish” of children diagnosed with progressive, degenerative or malignant conditions that are life-threatening. These wishes are divided into four main categories: “I wish to go”, “I wish to be”, “I wish to have” and “I wish to meet”. There are four requirements for participation: the wish child must be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness; he must be referred to the organization by a parent, legal guardian, treating physician or by the child himself; he must be a least two and a half years old and less that 18 years of age at the time of referral; and he must have never received a wish from another wish-granting organization. Participation is in no way regulated by family income; all children who are referred to the organization and meet the requirements are accepted.
The Mississippi Chapter of Make-A-Wish was founded in 1984, just four years after the national foundation’s inception. It all began with a little girl’s wish to go to Disney World. Since then, more than 1,100 other children in dire need of hope have been granted wishes by the Mississippi chapter. The Mississippi Make-A-Wish chapter grants approximately 80 wishes every year; however, more children are waiting with an estimated 140 children held on a waiting list each year in anticipation of funds becoming available for wish granting. The typical wish costs approximately $7,500 and is sponsored by monetary, service and merchandise contributions by private citizens, corporate sponsors, civic organizations and private businesses. One new way the Make-A-Wish has began supporting wishes is through the “Kids for Wish Kids” program where local schools raise money in support of granting a child his one true wish. So far, 24 wishes have been granted through this program. It also has numerous fundraising functions nationally and locally that help raise support for these children; Make-A-Wish is always looking for any civic group wanting to get involved.
Wish kids not only use their wish to go to Disney World or to see their favorite celebrity in action but sometimes their wish is to leave a legacy and touch the hearts of others in need. Elise was a wish kid from Seattle, Washington who was to be granted a wish back in late 2005. While following the nightly news and seeing the devastation left from Hurricane Katrina, she knew what she wanted her wish to be; she wished to rebuild a daycare facility in Ocean Springs, Mississippi to help the children on the Gulf Coast who had nowhere to go and parents with no available childcare facility. In 2006, Elise’s wish came true and she was flown to Ocean Springs the week before the grand opening to see the new facility, named appropriately after her. She was in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was able to experience first-hand all the relief her wish was giving to the ravaged community.
Make-A-Wish has had great support by the medical community not just because it performs a nice gesture for sick children, but it has been medically proven that it gives the child the will the fight and gives them hope of something immediate to look forward to. Make-A-Wish is always looking for new ways to give these children hope and the will and strength to fight their disease.
Make-A-Wish has sponsored wishes for thousands of children in the United States and affiliate territories. Make-A-Wish is always looking for volunteers, donations, corporate partners, and private contributors to help give a child the will to fight and a wish that can help them heal.
For more information about the Mississippi chapter of Make-A-Wish, becoming a volunteer or to make a contribution, please visit www.ms.wish.org or call the central office in Jackson at 601-366-WISH (9474).