Editor's Note: The Bulletin's All Ages section regularly profiles local organizations designed to help families and seniors. To suggest an organization, contact Alandra Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-617-7860.
Make-A-Wish is an organization that most people have heard of — it's a group that grants wishes to children who are terminally ill, flying them to Disneyland or helping them meet a favorite celebrity. But while Make-A-Wish garners national attention, community members may be unaware that the group is active locally.
In the past decade, Make-A-Wish Oregon has granted wishes for 85 Central Oregon children.
Eight more local children are currently on the list, waiting to have their wishes fulfilled.
Make-A-Wish Oregon helped Sisters resident Holly Davis, 6, and her family go on a Caribbean cruise together in January 2012. Holly, who is now in remission, had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and underwent chemotherapy for two-and-a-half years.
Her mom, Darcy Davis, says the family waited until Holly's treatment was over before going on the cruise. Davis says her daughter picked the cruise because when she was 3, she danced to the song with the lyrics, “Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise?” The idea stuck in her mind that she wanted a sea cruise. And she also hoped to see dolphins.
The charity paid for the cruise for the entire family, including dad Chad and Holly's two siblings, Greta, now 8, and Spencer, now 4.
“I don't have words to describe it. It was an amazing trip and something we would not have done with them at that age,” said Darcy Davis. “It's something we all still remember and talk about ... So different than anything out of our normal lives. It was so special and we will always share those memories. It was just an incredible experience.”
Davis says the experience was something they did to celebrate Holly's life.
Local residents can assist the efforts of Make-A-Wish Oregon during an upcoming fundraising radiothon (see “Radiothon”), which is essentially like a pledge drive. The group is hoping to raise $25,000 and to receive 100,000 donated frequent flier miles — all of which will be used to help grant wishes for kids in Oregon.
Tracey Lam, the public relations and communications manager for Make-A-Wish Oregon, said this will be the 12th year for the radiothon in Bend.
In order to qualify for the program, children must be age 2 1/2 to 18 and must be facing a life-threatening medical condition. Lam says most kids are referred to Make-A-Wish Oregon by family members or medical professionals.
Lam says Make-A-Wish Oregon tries to never say “no” to a wish. She says most kids' wishes fall into one of four categories. Some children wish to go somewhere, like Holly David wanted. Other children wish for things — maybe a new entertainment system or a puppy. Some wish to meet someone. Lam says one girl from the Willamette Valley wished to meet Justin Bieber. The fourth kind of wish is a wish to be something. For instance, Lam says one boy from Oregon recently wished to spend a day as a zookeeper.
During the Radioathon, listeners will hear from local families, including the Davis family, who will relate their experiences with Make-A-Wish Oregon.
People can also contribute to the fundraiser through an online auction on the Make-A-Wish Oregon website, which will feature everything from massages to resort stays. The auction will begin Feb. 25 at www.orwish.org.
Lam says working with Make-A-Wish Oregon is incredibly gratifying.
“Our goal is to bring joy and happiness to a family during the toughest times of their lives,” said Lam.
She recalls one boy saying that while Doernbecher Children's Hospital “helped help my body, Make-A-Wish helped heal my mind.”
The look on the children's faces when they receive their wish is very special. “It's a little light for them,” said Lam.