How do you make a wish referral?
The best way to make a referral is to call our office and speak to Frank Nilson, our Director of Program Services, at (801) 262-WISH (9474). You may also refer a child online at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America Web site at http://www.wish.org/.
Who makes a wish referral?
Most wish referrals are initiated by healthcare professionals and most of the rest are started by a child or his family. Because of privacy laws, referrals can only be accepted from a child himself, his parents, or a medical professional working with the child and family. In all cases the child’s own physician is contacted to affirm the medical appropriateness of the referral.
What children are eligible?
Children who have been diagnosed by their physician as having a life-threatening medical condition that is progressive, degenerative or malignant, and who are at least 2.5 and not more than 17 years of age at the time of referral, are eligible for a wish. More detailed guidelines on eligibility are provided to medical professionals on request. Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status. No eligible Utah child has ever been denied a wish or placed on a waiting list.
Is a child who has already received a wish from another wish-granting organization eligible to receive a wish from Make-A-Wish?
No, a child who has received a wish from another organization is not eligible for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Does the family’s financial status matter?
No, economic background does not affect whether a child is eligible for a wish.
Won’t accepting a wish mean we’ve given up hope for our child’s recovery?
We have frequently been described in the media or by word of mouth as granting wishes for children with “terminal” illnesses. It is much more correct to say that we grant wishes to children with “life-threatening medical conditions.” Many people believe (incorrectly) that we grant wishes only to children who are dying, when in fact, we see the process of making a wish as life-affirming and full of hope. Families tell us that a wish can encourage a child to fight for a brighter future, often against tremendous odds, when courage and hope are flagging. Our wish children who are now adults would attest to this!
Are some families reluctant to accept a wish because it feels like taking charity?
There are several reasons why a family might hesitate to call us. A family might feel, for example, that they could grant a wish for their child themselves. We have found, however, that a family simply does not plan a fantasy vacation or event when challenged by life-threatening illness with its intense and disruptive treatment schedules and extreme stresses. Parents cannot find the psychological resources to carry out complex plans when day-to-day life requires so much from them. A wish, moreover, often requires more than money for its implementation. A desire to meet a personal hero, or receive a blessing from John Paul II, or design an action figure for Mattel may be something that parents alone cannot facilitate. Nor will a family spend money on a child’s “wish” if that family is raising money for a transplant or struggling with the crushing burden of medical bills–even if the parents have jobs and insurance. A family need not be in poverty or on welfare to qualify for Make-A-Wish services. It is the medical condition of their child which qualifies that child, and the child’s need to experience renewed hope, strength, and joy. We seek to bring magic to a child’s life at a time when the emotional stress of a serious illness is taking its toll. Wishes are magical things. When a child’s wish is fulfilled, it says, “it’s good to dream, it’s good to hope.” At Camp Hobe and at Primary Children’s Medical Center and in hospital therapy groups for children with life-threatening conditions, children often talk about their wishes and encourage newly diagnosed peers to think about what they might wish for. The wish-talk itself is positive and optimistic. Even parents who initially resisted calling the Make-A-Wish Foundation later decide to let their own child be a part of this magical process. Finally, even though it may seem that the wish family is the recipient of the gift of a wish, we find that volunteers, community members, and corporate donors are often very touched by the “power of a wish.” And so a child, through his wish, often gives to others much more than he receives himself.
We can afford to pay for a wish ourselves. If we accept this wish, will this be unfair to other, less fortunate, families?
All medically qualified children are eligible for a wish, regardless of family income. Even if a family can afford to fund the wish themselves, we seek to bring elements of surprise, magic, and fun to the wish experience that many families could not achieve because of the daily stresses and emotional trauma of having a seriously ill child. We have never had to turn a wish down because of a lack of funds, and take pride in fulfilling a wish for every Utah child, regardless of race, creed, or economic status.