Their Make-A-Wish signs, balloons and t-shirts told the weary, jet-lagged wish kids and their families that they were in good hands.
Help from a Continent Away
The Make-A-Wish America Entertainment and Sports Relations team was in the very middle of it all, from the earliest stages of planning to flying out after the last wish kid. They are responsible for many major event wishes – and they're absolute pros. Name a major sporting or entertainment event, and chances are that one of the team members has been there with a wish kid. But granting nearly 50 wishes requires some help, especially when the event takes them to a different country, a different culture, a different language.
From the first moment, the Brazil volunteers had a genuine and radiant enthusiasm for being part of the World Cup wishes. Each family came to love each volunteer for dozens of different reasons. They made sure every family got to the venues without delay. They translated during mealtimes, helped them find souvenirs, even arranged a Make-A-Wish soccer match on the fly. They even tried to teach me a few phrases in Portuguese.
The Make-A-Wish Brazil volunteers took time away from careers as engineers, attorneys and doctors because they realize what great things can come from making wishes come true. They truly made the experience what it was. They transformed all the prior planning from a continent away into something concrete, authentic and meaningful. And it didn't take long before wish kids were asking them to pose in family photos.
A Performance that Wins Hearts
At halftime of the Ecuador versus Honduras match, one wish kid’s dad showed me a photo someone had snapped of him with Brazil volunteer Sabrina.
“There's an angel in this picture,” he said, pointing to Sabrina.
Yes. There certainly was. Even on the very last day, there was still a surprise to come: Each family received a gift-wrapped framed memento that will always remind the families of their time in Brazil.
To Sabrina, Hoberta, Isabella, Andre and Carolina … muito obrigado por todo!