Vanessa's Wish Granted By Make-A-Wish New Jersey
February 17, 2020
Monroe Township - A local child’s wish was granted by Make-A-Wish New Jersey, whose mission is to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. 18-year-old Vanessa’s wish to go to Greece was granted this past summer, thanks to the 2019 Jersey Mike’s Subs “Month of Giving” Campaign, which raised over $458,000 for Make-A-Wish New Jersey last March. Jersey Mike’s Subs and Make-A-Wish New Jersey are partnering once again this year for the 2020 March “Month of Giving”, to raise funds for more wishes for children with critical illnesses in the months ahead. The campaign kicks off March 1st.
At the age of eight years old, Vanessa of Plainfield became ill. After a long six months, she was diagnosed with a rare, critical and life-threatening illness known as Evans Syndrome. Vanessa’s rare autoimmune disease affects her red blood cells, platelets and neutrophils. The diagnosis came as a shock to Vanessa and her entire family.
“I was very confused since I was only nine,” Vanessa shared. “But my family was there for me and helped me through it.”
Vanessa has had to endure many struggles with her condition, including lengthy hospital stays, doctor appointments and time away from friends. Vanessa was home-schooled, as her rare disease could make her unable to fight infection, and so she would often have to be in isolation. For a young teenage girl, this was devastating. In 2017, Vanessa underwent a bone marrow transplant – a procedure that thankfully her sister Gloria was a donor match for.
Throughout her ongoing treatments, no matter what came her way, Vanessa would face it head-on, with a positive attitude, and a constant determination to not let her illness define her. Her family was by her side throughout it all – something Vanessa holds near and dear to her heart.
“Vanessa is strong,” two of her sisters Anajessica and Jennifer shared. “She’s had relapses, but she always bounces back.”
When Vanessa was referred to Make-A-Wish, she knew she wanted to think long and hard when choosing her wish. Vanessa has a deep love of history. She wanted to experience a culture she had never seen before, and most importantly wanted to travel somewhere special with her family, having been by her side for all these years. Vanessa decided her one true wish was to go to Greece and immerse herself in its rich ancient history as well as the beautiful beaches the country had to offer.
After a long and difficult road and some travel delays due to medical issues, Vanessa’s trip to Greece finally came true in the summer of 2019. Vanessa, along with her mother Gloria and her sisters Anajessica, Jennifer, Patricia and Gloria were able to leave their stresses behind and seize the opportunity to forget about doctor visits, medical treatments and hospital stays, and simply enjoy their time together in a beautiful country they had never seen before.
“I was so happy when my wish came true,” Vanessa reflected. “I am so thankful and grateful for this trip. It made me feel free, and not have to think about what I have to go through at home. It was a break and I could feel like a kid.”
For an entire week, Vanessa and her family visited the ancient city of Athens, where she had the opportunity to see the historic citadel of Acropolis, filled with remains of several great buildings with architectural significance, including the Parthenon. They also relaxed on some of Greece’s beautiful beaches, experienced a day cruise and even went snorkeling.
“The cruise was super relaxing!” Vanessa added.
Most importantly, Vanessa and her family created lifelong memories together, and came home reenergized to face whatever comes their way, together.
“Make-A-Wish provided Vanessa with an opportunity we would never have been able to do,” her sisters Anajessica and Jennifer shared. “For many years, we tried but we were restricted while she battled, in and out of the hospital, and she wasn’t medically cleared to travel.”
“As a family, we provided support for our sister Vanessa, but Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is very far,” they continued. “It’s been difficult. But Vanessa’s Make-A-Wish trip was an opportunity to forget all of that.”
Vanessa’s wish was granted thanks to the funds raised by local Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants as part of last year’s “Month of Giving” campaign, which granted over 40 wishes for kids like Vanessa. In March 2020, over 80 Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants throughout New Jersey will once again join forces with Make-A-Wish New Jersey, raising vital funds needed to aid the organization in their mission. The monthlong customer-donation campaign, which will culminate with the “Day of Giving” on Wednesday March 25th, a day when Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants donates 100% of the day’s sales, hopes to engage the local community and raise significant funds to grant wishes once again year. Since 2017, Jersey Mike’s Subs has donated over $1 Million to Make-A-Wish New Jersey.
Make-A-Wish New Jersey has granted nearly 11,000 wishes since its inception in 1983. The generous support of corporations like Jersey Mike’s Subs is critical to the organization’s continued success.