How did you become involved with Make-A-Wish?
I became a Make A Wish, Wish Granter Volunteer in June 2008 when I attended a training that was held in Brunswick, GA. I had just recently moved back to my hometown and I needed to get involved with something that had purpose attached to it. I saw the ad for the training in the newspaper and I signed up to attend. After attending the training and completing all of the required steps to become a Wish Granter I soon fell in love with mission and purpose of Make A Wish and I have been granting wishes since then.
What has been your favorite wish since you began volunteering with Make-A-Wish?
I honestly do not know if I have a favorite wish. I have granted over 40 wishes and all of them are special to me because of the amazing wish kids who I have had the honor of working with during the planning of their wish. I will never forget my first wish which was for a 16 year old girl in Brunswick girl. She visited the mall the night before the wish and had mapped out exactly what she wanted in all of the stores in the mall. I will also never forget my first rush wish for an 11 year old who wanted a shopping spree and who we took to Chuck E Cheese for the first time in his life. If I had to pick one, I would say that my favorite would be the Bass Pro Shopping Spree that I did with a teenage boy named Samuel Sims. My partner and I was blessed to spend the entire day with Sam and his very large family and we were able to share in the love that his family had for Sam. Sam's wish will always be very special to me because we were really able to bond with him during his shopping spree.
Can you describe the impact of a wish that you have seen in working with wish families and wish children?
The impact of a wish that I have personally experienced while granting wishes was the most apparent when I worked with a family for almost 3 years until their daughter's wish was granted. A few months before Raleyn was schedule to receive her wish to go on a Disney Cruise her cancer came back and she had to start going through treatment again for the cancer. Raleyn was only 8 years old and it is an indescribable feeling how it feels to watch a beautiful little girl go through cancer. What I remember the most about Raleyn is that her spirit was just as beautiful as she was. I truly believe that Raleyn was able to use the idea of getting to go on her wish when she got well as a way to fight through the cancer a second time. Every time my partner and I would speak with her or go visit her in the hospital she would always smile when talking about going on her wish when she got better. It was heartbreaking but so encouraging at the same time. Raleyn beat her cancer the second time and a few years later was finally able to go on her wish trip to Walt Disney World and she loved it!
What do you like to do in your spare time, when you are not volunteering?
I enjoy traveling and visiting new places. I love to go to the beach to watch the sunrise and to different parks to watch the sunset. I enjoy going to concerts, plays, musicals, and movies. Most of my spare time is usually dedicated to my goddaughter who is the 9th grade. I am usually attending her school and sporting events.
Do you have a motivational quote that you live by?
Yes, there are several. "Be so good they can't ignore you." Steve Martin and "Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story." Josh Ship My favorite scripture is "For surely I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your good and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11
Why do you feel that wishes are important for children with serious health challenges?
I know without a doubt that wishes are important for children with serious health challenges. I know this because I have seen in first hand in all of the wishes that I have granted. A wish gives the child and the family something positive and bright to look forward to while they going through the most difficult time of their life. Parents have told me repeatedly that the only time the child will smile is when they are talking about their wish. There is certainly power in wishes. I truly believe that the power to hope, believe, and heal are all connected to the Power of A Wish!
What has being a part of the Make-A-Wish Team meant to you?
Every time someone ask me about Make A Wish or me working as a Wish Granter- I smile and say that it is one thing that I do in my life that keeps me grounded. Working with Make A Wish helps me appreciate my life more and be more grateful for the people in my life. After speaking with a parent whose child is experiencing a life threatening illness there isn't anything you can do but say THANK YOU for your life. No matter what is going on in my life I always leave wish visits feeling like I have the best life in the world. I honestly feel like I have the best job of anyone on the Make A Wish Team because I actually get to meet the children and hear them tell me about their wish and I get to deliver the wish to them. Being a Wish Granter for The Make A Wish Foundation on hands down one of the best things I have ever done with my life!