By Sam Turner
Nonprofit Sector News
July 16, 2020
The Make-a-Wish Foundation is working hard to make dreams come true during the COVID-19 pandemic. While wishes being granted may not have been the original plans, Make-A-Wish Foundation has been finding ways to bring joy to families.
Hayley Sitz, the foundation’s national public relations manager, says it pursued new and creative ways to grant a child’s wish since the pandemic started. “Make-a-Wish is still granting wishes every day for children with critical illness,” said Sitz, “We’re also pursuing new and creative ways to bring experiences of hope to wish kids today, through surprises like car parades or by virtually granting wishes.”
Normally, Make-a-Wish is able to grant wishes for children with critical illnesses no matter how big, small or complicated the wish may seem to the child or their family. The Make-a-Wish foundation has granted wishes for children around the world, including trips to meet Elsa and Anna from Frozen, swimming with dolphins, and giving back to childhood cancer patients.
Wish granting is more difficult with COVID-19 running rampant through the country, which is causing the Genies at Make-a-Wish to get a little more creative. According to the organization’s national staff, the two most extreme wishes recently granted have been “Sam’s wish to give back to health care workers” and “Mayte’s wish for an accordion.”
Make-a-Wish New Mexico says Sam Neal is a 17-year-old diagnosed with cancer who wanted to give back to the nurses and healthcare staff taking care of him during treatments. With the help of the community, Sam was able to put together over 100 “wish kits” for healthcare workers. Kits provided materials and supplies health care workers would need for returning to their homes after work, personal hygiene items that have been hard to find due to COVID-19, as well as gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores. Sam was able to donate 120 kits to the healthcare workers at Presbyterian Hospital, Lovelace Medical Center, and UNMH on World Wish Day (April 29).
Make-a-Wish Los Angeles also was able to make Mayte’s wish come true. She was surprised on her front lawn surrounded by friends and family. A Mariachi band performed while keeping social distance, as Mayte and her father danced together on the front lawn. Mayte received a blue accordion and a year’s worth of virtual music lessons to keep her passion for music and learning a new instrument alive during quarantine.
Due to COVID-19, Make-a-Wish could not grant wishes appropriately and many became backlogged. A Make-a-Wish chapter in Nevada postponed 70 percent of wishes received. Caroline Ciocca, Make-a-Wish Southern Nevada President and CEO, said many postponed wishes included travel.
Make-a-Wish is still granting wishes, according to Sitz. The foundation is preparing to grant every eligible child’s wish when it is deemed safe to do so. She said, “We are preparing to grant every child’s wish who is considered eligible because children who have wishes granted can build up the physical and emotional strength, they need to fight a critical illness.”