I remember the day Veronica told me she was eligible for a Make-A-Wish experience. It came at a time when I felt like our worlds were drifting apart. Just the possibility of her wish gave us something to talk and smile about together.
I had so much fun dreaming with my friend again.
Veronica once told me that when she grew up, she wanted to go to hospitals to tell the children; “If I can do it, so can you!” Even while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Veronica encouraged and inspired other children in her oncology wing.
I had my first fundraiser for Make-A-Wish one year after Veronica passed away. I was 15 years old and just found a way to bring joy into my life again. Something, at the time, I didn’t think was possible.
A few friends and I began a club through Kids For Wish Kids®, and we went on to adopt two wishes for children in the Sacramento area while in high school. In college, I interned at the Make-A-Wish office in Seattle, and, four years later, joined the staff.
As a communications coordinator, I talk to wish families about their experiences. A wish mom, Shannan, once described to me the pains of watching her 5-year-old daughter struggle with leukemia. Her words really hit home. “You want to take your child’s sickness away – but you can’t,” she said.
A helplessness often comes when a loved one faces a life-threatening medical condition. As a teenager, I struggled to feel like I had done enough for my friend.
But after talking with wish parents like Shannan, I began to understand how compassion, hope and joyfulness can be life-changing for a seriously ill child. “It was eye-opening to see how many people dedicate their lives to bring joy to others,” said Shannan. “This trip helped bring the glimmer back to her eyes that had been gone for so long.”
I couldn’t take Veronica’s sickness away, but Make-A-Wish gave me an opportunity to make an impact in way that would honor my friend’s plans to provide hope to other children.
Year after year, I kept returning to Make-A-Wish because this organization’s mission stems from the same belief Veronica shared with me – that hope is a powerful thing.
I can say with all certainty that this organization helped change the course of my life. I am thankful for every day I get to work with a team of talented, dedicated people who transform lives by giving seriously ill children – and all of their loved ones – the chance to find renewed strength in the compassion of others and an opportunity to experience joy in every moment we have together.
So, if you haven’t yet considered giving to Make-A-Wish or joining as a volunteer, I’m here to tell you; “If I can do it, so can you.”