By Alicia Raymond and Jeannette Tarcha, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington
While many children love the winter holidays for the bright lights and colorful displays, 17-year-old Allison’s joy is in the sounds of the season. Battling a host of life-threatening medical conditions, Allison is blind and bed-ridden. But nothing, including her lack of sight, would keep this Make-A-Wish Foundation® recipient from enjoying holiday festivities.
Last year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Alaska & Washington – the nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy – turned her bedroom into a winter wonderland for her wish experience.
“I cannot put into words how utterly fantastic it was,” said her mom, Cindy, “Everyone was blown away… It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
As soon as Santa and the Dickens Carolers entered the room, Allison’s face lit up with joy and she eagerly stretched out her arms to snuggle Santa’s velvety suit. The Carolers gathered around her bed and serenaded her with holiday classics, including her personal favorite, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Though she couldn’t see the decorations, Allison was able to feel the holiday spirit all around her. She loved being able to touch and squeeze Santa’s beard, and taste the delicious holiday treats, she even had a chance to feel “snow” that Santa brought with him.
“In many cases, the wish experience is a life-changing experience for the child and their family, as Allison’s mom mentioned, but it also has a tremendous impact on the community,.” said Barry McConnell, President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation recently worked with independent researchers to survey wish parents, Foundation volunteers and medical/healthcare professionals regarding the impact of the wish experience. The results were astounding.
- 96 percent of parents said the wish experience strengthened their families.
- 95 percent of community volunteers reported an increased sense of compassion.
- 88 percent of nurses, doctors, social workers and child life specialists surveyed say they believe that the wish experience can influence wish kids’ physical health.
“A wish come true helps children feel stronger, more energetic, more willing and able to battle their life-threatening medical conditions,” said McConnell. “For many of them, it marks a turning point in their fight against their illnesses. For their doctors, nurses and other health professionals, the wish experience works in concert with medicine to help their patients feel better, emotionally and even physically.”
Looking to start a new family holiday tradition and help this worthy cause? If you want to help make wishes come true for children like Allison and have fun in the process, please join the Make-A-Wish Foundation this holiday season at their inaugural Season of Wishes Santa Brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle on December 4, 2011 from 9-11 a.m.
A plated breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m. and children will have an opportunity to create holiday themed crafts to take home, and take a commemorative photo with Santa.
Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children (two and under are free). Tables of 10 are also available for $400 and benefits include preferred seating, "fast pass" to Santa, holiday themed gifts, and Four Seasons' chocolate sweet treats for the entire family. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit your local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Call 206.623.5300 for tickets or visit the website for more information.