Make-A-Wish celebrates 40 years of wish-granting; discusses impact of COVID-19

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps grant wishes of critically ill children by letting them do things like meet the president, sports stars and visiting Disney Land, turned 40 years old Wednesday.

For its birthday, which is known as ‘World Wish Day’, Make-A-Wish honored the work it has done in the past four decades and also looked to the future with the hopes of granting wishes for years to come.

The organization launched a new campaign called, ‘Wishes Need Stars Like You’, that is according to Jackie Auten, the Regional Manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation Public Service Announcement for ‘Wishes Need Stars Like You’ campaign

“It’s a new campaign that rallies and collects star power of everyday people who bring hope to kids and families during the most challenging times,” Auten emphasized. “Now more than ever, we need stars, just like the community to come together and align, to deliver hope to children with critical illnesses in their community.”

Auten said one thing that really makes the foundation powerful is that they don’t only affect the ‘Wish Child’s’ life, but also their parents, siblings and anyone who comes into contact with the child.

‘The Transformative Power of Wishes’

Right now, Make-A-Wish has been stifled by the COVID-19 outbreak, Auten stated, resulting in a significant postponement of granting wishes. The Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia chapter alone grants nearly 50-60 wishes a year, but has had to postpone granting 86 wishes to date. About 25 of those wishes being postponed are in West Virginia, Auten said.

The reason for these postponements, Auten said, is because around 77% of their wishes involve some traveling, and that is virtually impossible to do when facing a global pandemic.

Jackie Auten,
Regional Manager

“We’re afraid that that number might even go up higher for wishes that have to be put on hold for children with critical illnesses,” Auten described. “In addition, we have had to cancel more than 40 events, that has resulted in a loss of almost $300,000, so it’s more important now, than ever, for the entire community to come together.”

The urgent need to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses right now is because there are more kids wishing than ever before. She added that every child deserves to make a wish, and deserves to believe in their childhood and dreams again.

‘Wish Children’ go through so much, like battling serious and life-threatening illnesses that require extensive medical treatment like chemotherapy, surgeries, and receiving other critical care, Auten said. They just want to give the kids hope and help them cope by granting their wishes.

Make-A-Wish: Nicholas and WVU Basketball

Donating to Make-A-Wish is easy and can be done through their website. Auten said they want to raise funds now so they can get back to granting as many wishes as possible when the outbreak is over.

Recently, the foundation has held a ‘Web Walk’ and has continued to work to grant wishes in whatever ways they can, while following health guidelines.

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