A “wish” is a critically-ill child’s answer to the question: If you could have anything in the world, go anywhere, be or do anything, what would you choose? The opportunity to “make a wish” punctuates a dark time in the child’s life with a bright interlude that is hopeful, positive, and joyful. Wishes are provided to all Utah children over 2 ½ and under 18 whose physicians affirm that they have a life-threatening medical condition.
Each wish experience is designed in every detail for one particular child. Wishes are as diverse as the children who make them.
Wishes “To Meet…”
Children often wish “to meet” a beloved sports figure or celebrity whose courage has been a model and an inspiration for the child. The range of celebrity wishes reaches from a special audience with the Pope or the LDS First President to an afternoon with the cast of High School Musical, from a seminar with inspirational life coach Tony Robbins to an experience with a NASCAR champion.
Wishes “To Be…”
Wishes “to be” a princess or a vet, a soldier or a cartoonist, a nurse or a fireman, a superhero or a baker are among our favorites. We can involve people throughout the community in helping these children explore their dreams and aspirations.
Wishes “To Go…”
The vast majority of wishes involve travel. We grant wishes “to go” on a long-awaited vacation after a transplant. A child might wish to scuba dive in Truk Lagoon in the South Pacific, to visit family in Mexico, to participate in a rodeo in Las Vegas, or to go fishing in Alaska. Many wishes recur frequently every year, like wishes to swim with dolphins or climb a volcano in Hawaii or see theatre in the Big Apple. Children especially like to be able to give their families a wonderful experience like a trip to Walt Disney World® Resort or a cruise in the tropics, because they know their families have shared all the limitations and deprivations of their illnesses.
Wishes “To Have…”
Children wish for a variety of gifts like four-wheelers or pop-up campers, puppies or horses, outdoor playgrounds or hot tubs, bedroom or playroom makeovers, a player piano or a harp. We have even granted wishes to have a calf roping arena and a baseball field. Playhouses - themed around princesses, Harry Potter, castles, or pirate ships - are a current favorite.
Wishes “To Give…”
This is a new category of wish that the foundation is seeing more frequently in recent years. Some children wish for a shopping spree to buy special gifts for the people who have supported them through an illness or donated an organ to them. Children sometimes wish to make a wonderful Christmas celebration for families in a homeless shelter or to build a school in Africa. This desire to use the opportunity of a wish to express gratitude or to change the world for the better creates wishes that are a privilege to grant.
Wishes That Defy Classification
We have granted wishes to write a book about living with a brain tumor, to be a spokesperson for Make-A-Wish Foundation® and inspire other young people to persevere through great trials, to meet a father last seen in infancy, to visit the orphanage in India where the child was adopted as an infant, to participate in a Gettysburg reenactment. Wishes of this kind are a joy to grant because they are so unique to the individual child.
Wish Assists for Children from Other States
In addition to granting wishes for Utah children, we host children from other states who come to Utah in fulfillment of a wish. These wishes include such Utah experiences as the chance to see snow for the first time or learn to ski, to have a snowboarding or ranch or rafting vacation, to participate in a dinosaur dig or an LDS Church-related experience, to meet the cast of High School Musical or a Jazz player.
One of the great strengths of the Make-A-Wish® model is the presence of volunteers in every conceivable location, both nationally and internationally. We are assisted in our work here by 67 sister chapters across the country and more than 30 affiliates internationally. They make local arrangements and act as hosts and guides for families on a wish adventure anywhere in the country. This collaborative network is one of the most powerful resources available to our wish children.