Now that I have been interning at Make-A-Wish for multiple months, I’ve been able to see the differences in how people within the community think of wishes and how people outside of it do.
I used to think of Make-A-Wish as this mythical organization that convened with celebrities and was very far out of my reach. I read about it in books like The Fault in Our Stars, where it was renamed “genies” and assumed a fairy godmother role in the plot. Invisible strings were pulled and impossible feats were manifested. In the real world, it is actually ordinary people within communities who do all of the nitty gritty organization of wishes. It’s not magic, though it may come across as magical.
We’ve all heard the classic ‘myth versus reality’ comments about wishes, like the fact that being granted a wish doesn’t equate to a terminal diagnosis. But there is another assumption that I’ve been coming across in perusing news articles and other blogs about wish granting.
In an earlier blog post, a past intern wrote on questions she is asked about working for Make-A-Wish. In it, she mentions the comment, “I didn’t want a wish because I didn’t want to take it away from another kid.”
I’m amazed by how often I’ve seen this lately. I think it’s worth revisiting because it highlights the core rationale behind wishes and why every single child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness should have one.
No child who receives a wish is taking a wish away from another child. It is not a zero sum game. When one child goes to Hawaii and gets a break from treatment, another child isn’t forced to watch from the sidelines.
There are wishes to give. Amelia’s wish was to take care of the world. And Lauren’s wish was to give comfort and hope to children at her hospital through bunny blankets. They could have met their favorite celebrity or visited a foreign country, but that wasn’t the purpose that was most meaningful to them. Make-A-Wish has the resources to enable wish kids to ‘give’ on a grand scale.
I read an article about Joe, a generous teen with leukemia who is eligible for a wish. He didn’t pursue it because he felt younger children deserved it more. Instead, he raised money for Make-A-Wish. That was his choice and his efforts are admirable. But there was nothing about him receiving a wish that would have stood in the way of anyone else receiving one.
I’ve read how people – eligible kids and parents both – rationalize this: “You’re not that kind of kid,” or “younger kids deserved it more.” Not the kind of child who is forced to be brave in the face of pain and gets to have one thing in their life they can control? Not young enough and therefore not deserving enough? Sure, a child must be between the ages 2 ½ and 18, but within that range everyone is equal.
How can anyone compare a 4-year-old to an 8-year-old to an 11-year-old to a teenager and say that one needs a wish more than another? With everything they’ve been through, they each deserve a wish experience and everything positive it can bring into their lives.
If you'd like to learn more about what children are eligible for wishes, visit our Refer a Child page.