Our annual gala was held at the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place on Thursday, June 14th and raised over $1 million to support upcoming wishes!
We thank those who supported our gala—especially our wish children and their families—for making this a magical and memorable evening.
We also thank our wonderful honorees,
President & COO
Francis X. Bolte
Chief Administration Officer
Chairman of the Board
Make-A-Wish New Jersey
Humanitarian of the Year
For their role in making this night one of the most special nights of our year.
The evening was filled with surprises and heartfelt moments. Early in the evening, a story was shared about one of the first 10 wishes granted by Make-A-Wish New Jersey. The wish was granted in 1983 for a young boy named Bobby to meet his hero, famed wrestler Rocky Johnson. Bobby’s story was shared via video message by none other than Rocky Johnson’s son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to an awe-struck crowd – including Bobby’s family who were also in attendance. Dwayne Johnson is also a current wish-granter, recently meeting Emily from New Jersey on a movie set last fall.
Other highlights included a celebration of the milestone 10,000th wish granted by Make-A-Wish New Jersey just weeks ago to Klara for an Action Trackchair, followed by a surprise wish granted for Brandon, whose wish was for his very own camper. Brandon’s camper was delivered by a Monroe Township Police motorcade outside the Wishing Place via a live video feed while guests witnessed Brandon rushing out to receive his new camper with his family.
Make-A-Wish history was also made during this special night, when Linda Pauling, the “Matriarch of Make-A-Wish,” met one of her son’s celebrity heroes for the first time. In 1980, Linda’s son, Chris Greicius, who battled leukemia, was given the experience of a lifetime when his “wish” to be a police officer was made possible by law enforcement officials in Phoenix, AZ. Chris’ experience sparked a global movement that would become known as Make-A-Wish and, since that day in April 1980, over 300,000 children in the United States have experienced the hope, joy and transformation Make-A-Wish provides to children with critical illnesses. Chris’ desire to become a police officer was inspired by many things, one of which was through his favorite television show CHiPs, starring Erik Estrada. On Thursday night, for the first time in Make-A-Wish history, Linda was greeted by Mr. Estrada as he and Tommy Austin, U.S. Customs Agent and Co-Founder of Make-A-Wish, made their way through an honor guard of wish families, New Jersey & Federal law enforcement officials, past and present board members, honorees and special friends of Make-A-Wish, to meet Linda on stage in a moment filled with hugs and tears of joy.
The overall excitement of the evening was encapsulated with an inspiring speech by Megan Crowley, diagnosed with Pompe Disease, whose wish was granted in 2001 to go to Walt Disney World. Her father, John Crowley, Chairman of the Board & CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Chairman of the Board for Make-A-Wish America 2014-2016, and the inspiration for the Major Motion Picture Extraordinary Measures, shared his pride of his daughter and all she has accomplished. Megan and her family have continued to be leaders in the Make-A-Wish community, and played an integral part in the building of the Wishing Place, as well as countless other initiatives.
And a special thank you to our numerous 2018 gala sponsors who helped to make the gala a tremendous success!
To see more photos from the event, please click here!