Eric Miller, a volunteer wish-granter with Make-A-Wish® Kansas, was behind Korde's unforgettable day. Miller relishes granting challenging wishes and — when possible — throwing in something extra to make them even more memorable.
And if you want to talk about a challenge, few things are tougher than arranging a surprise, spur-of-the-moment meeting with the president of the United States. Miller learned that President Bush was touring the auto plant the same day he'd arranged a visit for Korde, who was diagnosed with systemic rheumatoid arthritis. Korde also didn't know his prized El Camino was fresh from a restoration valued at more than $30,000.
Miller, a drafter in the steel fabrication industry, says that Korde’s wish is certainly one of the most amazing of the more than 60 he’s helped grant in the past eight years. He particularly enjoys working with teens because their wishes often are more demanding — and more like the wish he'd request if he were eligible: to go skydiving with daredevil Evel Knievel.
One of Miller’s greatest pleasures during a wish is seeing an entire family support the wish kid. It’s always best, he said, when parents, siblings, grandparents and the extended family rally to make the wish memorable.
"It’s refreshing when everyone’s there," Miller said.
Miller has also seen first-hand how a wish experience can truly impact a wish kid’s life. He once arranged for a wish kid to meet football quarterback Doug Flutie. Two years after the wish, doctors cleared the wish kid to play sports again, and he earned a spot on a local university's football team as a walk-on.
Miller also convinced his wife, Becky, to make wish-granting a family affair. Her first wish was 10-year-old Faraj’s wish to go on a Toys ‘R’ Us shopping spree. She did, though, have a bit of help from her wish-granting husband — and he sees a wish-granting all-star in the making.
“She is already a natural,” he said.
The Kansas chapter values Miller's help beyond wish-granting, says Ashley Scheiderman, program services director. He often travels the state to speak to potential donors, participate in fundraisers and attend wish-granter training sessions.
"The best compliment I can say about Eric is that I get a tremendous response from wish parents about how great Eric is," she said, "and how they felt Eric was kind, considerate and truly there for their child."
There delivering some much-deserved joy to each wish child, whether by fulfilling a wish for a computer or helping Korde have a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the president of the United States. Hail to Eric the volunteer.