Maybe not, but that’s okay. We know our friends at Mental Floss compiled a list of 11 lesser-known facts about Make-A-Wish. But we’re adding to it with some insider knowledge, and we’re going to 12 … that’s one more, isn’t it? Here are some things our very own staff members were surprised to learn when they joined the organization.
1. Our mission is even bigger than you realize.
The official Make-A-Wish mission is, “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” One common misconception is that we only help kids who are terminal. In fact, many wish kids go on to achieve their dreams and give back to the community. I have also heard people say that Make-A-Wish only grants wishes for kids who have cancer. That’s not true! There are many different conditions that qualify for a wish, and we consider each case individually.
2. YouTubers are wish-granting superstars.
A major wish category is wishes “to meet” a celebrity. When we say that, people usually think of big-screen movie actors and singers. But wish kids have certain kind of celebrity they’d rather meet – YouTubers – and it’s a larger demand than you’d imagine. From Markiplier to Rhett and Link to Ryan Higa, wish kids are getting the chance to crack jokes, play games and act on camera. Some wish kids even start their own channel!
3. It’s easy to become a volunteer.
If you want to impact wish kids’ lives but aren’t sure how, volunteering is a great option. To get started, you will want to contact your local chapter (there are 62), attend an orientation, and fill out an application. You can become a wish granter, a special event volunteer or an office volunteer. In other words, there is a position for every type of person, from behind-the-scenes to directly working with wish kids.
4. Kids are some of our biggest helpers.
Those of you who aren’t old enough to volunteer can still help. We have two wonderful programs, Kids For Wish Kids® and Wishmakers on Campus®, which are geared toward younger people who want to help wish kids. If you don’t have a fundraising idea yet, that’s okay, too. We have lists of ideas kids have used in the past, from coin drives to cook-offs to bachelor/bachelorette auctions. In the past, schools have raised enough to fund an entire wish and then some!
5. Theme parks go all-out for wish kids.
Going to theme parks is the biggest wish request we get. Kids love getting a chance to meet their favorite characters and get signature books signed … or maybe it’s the draw of churros and ice cream bars? One theme park even has a room dedicated to wish families who want to rest and snack in between all the exciting rides. That way they never have to leave their amazing wish to go back to the hotel.
6. Some wish kids use their wishes to set themselves up for the future.
Though sometimes people forget about them, Make-A-Wish serves teenagers as well as kids. As they prepare for adulthood, teens sometimes use their wishes for schooling and career planning. Both Foster and Peter wished for help with their college tuition. Camille wished to be a model and now plans on using the photos from the shoot as a professional portfolio. Can you say forward-thinking?
7. Getting there is half the fun.
Airlines are awesome at making wishes memorable. They announce kids in the terminals, they take them to the flight deck and they even prepare special snacks and goody bags. For many kids, the wish is their first time flying. For others, it’s a rare chance to fly for reasons other than getting treatment.
8. One wish is granted every 34 minutes, on average.
That’s not bad, but we’re striving to do even better. Taking into account every eligible wish kid, we should be granting a wish every 18 minutes. What’s stopping us? Well, wish costs keep rising every year, but we are still dedicated to making sure that every wish kid receives their one true wish. That’s why your support is so crucial – you make it possible for us to fulfill our mission.
(The next few items are contributions from other members of our staff.)
9. We grant all sorts of unique wishes.
“We know that wishes are driven by kids’ imaginations, but I’m still caught off guard sometimes when I hear about a kid who really goes big. I mean, a wish for a pet dragon? Or a wish to meet a unicorn in the rainforest (because you know, that’s where unicorns live)? Perhaps even more surprising than the fancies of wish kids, is the fact that our resourceful and enterprising volunteers are able to pull off these experiences time and time again.”
-Erin Regan, Digital Production Specialist
10. We came from humble beginnings in Phoenix to go worldwide.
“Make-A-Wish started in Phoenix, and it amazes me that many of the 4 million people who live here don’t know about that. We don’t have many homegrown Arizona charities … especially charities that have gone global. That’s something everyone here should be proud of. Seriously, Make-A-Wish is as Arizona as the Grand Canyon and runaway llamas
-Justin Schmid, Editorial Manager
11. Volunteers have a huge role in the organization.
“I was really surprised to learn that wishes are all granted by volunteers. Based on other organizations I have seen, I thought that volunteers just did smaller roles like manning “Walk for Wishes” water stations or helping set up for an event – but they actually are the heart of what we do. I had no idea that our wishes are actually granted by our wonderful volunteers!”
-Jenny Babich, Brand Traffic Manager
12. Many wish kids grow up to give back.
“One wish kid, Jarem Frye, wished to have a mountain bike. Once his wish came true, he kept breaking his prosthetic leg while riding. He kept fixing and modifying his prosthesis. Today, he designs and builds prosthetics that get amputees back on the slope or trail. He’s just one of the many people who have received wishes, grown up and achieved something great.”
-Justin Schmid, Editorial Manager
Yangzi - JPG Photography
Addison - Kevin Lubera
William - Mary Melka Photography