Summer is officially upon us once again! That means, at Make-A-Wish, we are gearing up for what is normally our busiest wish granting season of the year.
Typically, more wishes are granted in the summer months than any other time of the year, and while this is an increasingly busy time for wishes, this also means it’s an incredibly memorable time for so many wish kids.More memories created translates to more smiles and more laughter than any other time of the year. However, due to health implications from COVID-19, the memories made this summer may look a little different.
There were 95 local children immediately impacted by the pandemic and we anticipate more children’s wishes will be impacted in the weeks to come. Imagine receiving a break from ongoing rounds of medical treatments, having your bags packed, plane tickets in hand, ready to visit your dream destination… and everything forcefully is put on hold.
This is the current reality for those 95 wish kids. In total, over 400 wishes have been impacted by the COVID restrictions in some way - whether being postponed or altered to fit the current social climate. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to help share more hope and more joy this summer than ever before.
Below you will find two inspirational stories of wishes that have been granted during the pandemic, and the lasting impact that heroes like you have delivered to the children we serve.
||I wish to have a French Bulldog puppy
Like many kids, being around dogs and cats brings a sense of security to Lydia, a vivacious 17-year-old. However, Lydia is in need of extra comfort and companionship because she battles a heart condition.
Because of her critical illness, Lydia connected with Make-A-Wish so that she could experience the hope of a heartfelt wish coming true. And it didn’t take long for her to decide her one-true wish: to have her very own French Bulldog puppy that she could take with her everywhere she goes.
After searching high and low, her wish granters brought Lydia the perfect French Bulldog puppy with a pink bow around her neck. Lydia’s face lit up with joy as she scooped her new furry friend into her arms. Lydia even had the perfect name picked out: Tiana Belle, after her two favorite Disney princesses.
“Tiana and Lydia were an instant pair,” said Kari, Lydia’s mom. “Lydia has created bathing schedules, feeding schedules and keeps Tiana’s crate in her room at night – they are inseparable!”
During this time of quarantine and extra isolation, Lydia has had additional time to bond with Tiana and feel the much-needed comfort of her new companion. Her time at home is much less lonely, because of Tiana’s constant love and puppy antics!
“Tiana Belle is providing structure, which Lydia needs, as well as happiness and joy,” Kari said. “Lydia is unable to see her friends at school right now, but having Tiana Belle around allows for her to still have a connection during this time.”
Now more than ever, a wish inspires hope and gives children like Lydia a piece of their childhood back. Today, she is more hopeful, thanks to a generous community of supporters and friends – including Tiana Belle!
“We fell in love with Tiana as a family,” Kari said. “Watching them bond gives the joy of life and brings back meaning to this crazy life we are living.”
||I wish to have a hot tub
With her electric personality, 3-year-old Sydney brings sunshine to any room. She especially loves the water and learning about animals – the simple mention of “horsies” makes her glow instantly. Sydney’s bright personality has truly helped the entire family face the difficult reality of her neuromuscular disorder.
“Sydney’s gentle eyes and sugary smile can brighten the worst of days,” said Samantha, Sydney’s mom. “And our family has gone through some unimaginable heartache over the past year.”
For Samantha, witnessing the effects of her daughter’s critical illness has been especially heartbreaking. Sydney is nonverbal and is also unable to walk and play like other children her age. Instead of going to daycare alongside friends, she has endured treatments and multiple trips to the hospital. On some days, not even “horsies” can bring a smile back to Sydney’s face.
When Sydney’s physicians recently introduced the idea of aquatic therapy, the family saw a glimmer of hope. Heated water is known to alleviate pain for patients like Sydney, while helping increase levels of comfort.
After trying aquatic therapy, her love for the water blossomed. Not only did Sydney feel better, she had the newfound freedom to move her limbs and splash around.
After the family connected with Make-A-Wish, Sydney initially wanted to go to her favorite theme park. But COVID-19 changed everything, and Sydney’s family and wish granters didn’t want to wait an extra day to bring her the hope of a wish. After talking about it further, everyone realized that nothing would make Sydney happier than her very own hot tub. “We felt the hot tub was the wish Sydney was, frankly, meant to have all along,” Samantha said.
Since her wish was granted, Sydney’s hot tub has transformed her life. At a time when everyone has felt extra isolated at home, a wave of hope washed over the entire family at just the right time.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” Samantha said. “If Sydney’s expressions and happiness could speak, we imagine it would say something along the lines of, ‘This is my happy place.’”
A wish gives children like Sydney renewed energy and strength and brings families closer together. Instead of feeling stuck inside, Sydney and her brother and sister now have a hot tub to provide hours of exciting - and healing - water adventures. Seeing Sydney get a precious piece of her childhood back has shined a light of hope on the entire family at a time when they needed it most.
“Make-A-Wish is a huge reason our baby will live the rest of her life to the fullest by giving her something we, as her parents, couldn’t,” Samantha said. “Make-A-Wish will be the reason for kids like Sydney’s culminating smiles. Thank you!”
HOPE IS ESSENTIAL
During this unprecedented time, we may all feel the impact in slightly different ways. However, we each search for that bright spot - our “north star” - leading us through this crisis. For us, it is the life-changing impact that a wish come true brings to the children we serve. Quite often for our wish kids, it’s the support of donors just like you that motivate them to keep pushing forward, marching toward the hope that their wish will soon come true.
For one wish family in particular, the impact of their wish has guided them to “wish it forward” and be part of the matching gift opportunity this year. When asked why the Summer of Wishes match was so important, the Wish Dad said, “Three summers ago, our son received his wish and it helped us through a difficult time. The Summer of Wishes gift match is a wonderful and unique way we can ensure future wish families receive the same joy and happiness that helped us.”
With COVID-19, new health worries are present, bringing added isolation and vulnerability for wish kids and their families. While fighting their illness, children are now anxiously counting the days until their wish will be granted. Their families are counting too. Will you stand alongside our wish families and continue to be their “north star”? Every gift will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $55,000 during the Summer of Wishes.