Fittingly, perhaps, the first Utah wish involved the snow. Four-year-old Stephanie lived in Fort Lauderdale. She had bone cancer. Her best friend Alison moved to Park City, Utah, in 1983 and told Stephanie all about her new world of ice and mountains. Stephanie wished to visit Utah to see Alison again and “to taste the snow.” That the first wish ever granted in Utah. The next year, a teenager from Iowa, in the end stages of a life-threatening dystrophy, asked, “Where is there snow in October? I love the holidays, and I know I won’t have another Christmas with my family. We could celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Sunday, and my family could all be together for the holidays again.” His wish came true in a cabin in the High Uintas in 1984. And, yes, there was snow. The simple joy of these two wishes demonstrated the power of a child’s wish and deepened the conviction of Utah observers that this wonderful opportunity should be available to Utah children, too.
On Hill Air Force Base in 1985, a small group of local volunteers gathered to incorporate the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Utah. They began operations with a $5,000 start-up grant from St. Benedict Hospital in Ogden and granted 5 wishes that first year to Utah children. The first Utah wish child, however, wanted to escape the December snow. She wished for a trip to Hawaii. Debbie was 15-years-old and self-conscious about the disabilities of her illness. She confided, “I want to walk on the edge of the ocean, and lay on the beach in the sand, and feel the sun on my skin, but I want to be in a private place where no one can see me.” Donations of airline tickets from Delta and the donation of a house on a private beach in Maui transported her out of the snowbelt and into the Pacific sun. And the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah was born.
For more in-depth information on our chapter, see our annual report here.
More information on Make-A-Wish America.