One day during my treatment, there was a knock at my door that I will never forget. It was my Make-A-Wish volunteers who had come to grant my one true wish! Growing up a big sports fan all of my life, I knew exactly what I would wish for – I wished to meet my favorite baseball player! Hey, I was a 16-year-old girl and he was a beautiful professional ball player … can you blame me?
My Make-A-Wish experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. It provided me with hope during a tough time, which encouraged me to stay positive. It provided me with a light at the end of the tunnel and helped me fight for that light. Because I was older when I became sick, I truly understood what was happening to me, but I also saw the effects that it had on my family.
Receiving my wish made not only me, but more importantly, my family, feel special for the amazing challenges we had overcome. The wish gave us happy times together full of laughter, joy and comfort that completely erased all of the bad memories filled with hospital rooms, needle sticks and sleepless nights. The wish created wonderful, hopeful memories with my family that changed our outlook on life and truly impacted where life would take me.
In the fall of 2010, I attended Clemson University and made two big decisions that, unknown to me at the time, would intersect in the most beautiful way: to major in sociology with a minor in nonprofit leadership and to join a sorority in an effort to make friends and find where I belonged.
When I went through the sorority recruitment process, I specifically remember meeting all of the wonderful ladies of Chi Omega, Psi Kappa Chapter. They were absolutely hilarious, down-to-earth, kind and passionate women that I easily formed immediate friendships with. But it was the philanthropy round that truly sealed the deal. When I learned that Chi Omega’s charity of choice was Make-A-Wish, I finally felt like I belonged and had my true purpose.
Looking back on my four years of college, I am so thankful for the friendships and memories that Chi Omega provided me. They were filled with an abundance of laughter, late night girl talks, tailgates, homecoming parades and incredible adventures with the best friends that a girl could ask for. But most importantly, it taught me what sisterhood truly means. Sisterhood means supporting one another with a kind, compassionate heart because you genuinely want to see them succeed. It is living life surrounded by incredible, talented, beautiful women working together as one for a mission that truly matters.
There is a reason that both Chi Omega and Make-A-Wish hold special places in my heart and work hand-in-hand together. They both provide hope, strength and joy to the individuals that they serve. They have both provided me with incredible memories full of joy and strength and a positive outlook and helped grow my heart into a more passionate, giving heart, which has shaped me into the woman I am today.
Now I proudly work with the Make-A-Wish South Carolina chapter as a wish manager. I am responsible for planning and coordinating wishes for children all over the state. I strive every day to create once-in-a-life-time experiences for children just like me. Without fundraisers like the ones that my sisters at Chi Omega hold, I may have never had my wish, and I definitely would not have gone on to help grant the wishes of over 100 South Carolina wish children. YOU helped me do that. You have all my thanks.
I encourage each of you as alumnae to believe that just because your time in college is over, does not mean that your impact has to be. There are so many opportunities for you to stay involved with your sisters and Make-A-Wish such as being a donor, a wish-granting volunteer and an active member of your alumnae chapter.
If you take away nothing else from my story, please know this: What you do during your time as a Chi Omega truly makes a difference. Not only in your own life and the lives of your sisters, but in the lives of incredible children all across the country.
My wish experience gave me the power to get through:
- Every needle stick, every scan and every spinal tap I had to be awake for.
- Every day I didn’t eat because of nausea or couldn’t go outside and play with friends like other children.
- Every morning waking up with more hair on my pillow and not feeling beautiful because I was bald.
- Every head that turned my way because I looked different or sick.
- Every night my mother cried herself to sleep and every day my father wished he could take my place.
- Every day I live as a survivor that I still feel guilty for the children not as fortunate as me.
My wish gave me the hope and inspiration to get through it all. These are the miracles that happen every day because of hard-working, dedicated women like you coming together for one purpose: to inspire hope, strength and joy in the lives of children battling life-threatening medical conditions. There are still hundreds of children that need your help, and so I’m writing with the hope that you will continue to help make wishes come true for these deserving children. The work that you do will inspire them to dream big, to fight to grow up and to have hope in a truly beautiful world.