Posted November 9, 2015
From the Casper Journal
Chase drew cartoons of hairless cats with skateboards even before his diagnosis of leukemia in Feb. 2015, said Desiree, his mother. His father is allergic to cats, so Chase, a cat lover, wanted a hairless cat.
When Chase and his mother arrived home after spending five months living in Denver where he underwent treatments for his cancer, Thor was waiting for him. With the skateboard, jet pack, yellow sweater and two different colored eyes — one blue, one green.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation gets a request, “We do everything within our power to make it happen,” said Morgan Legerski, CEO of the foundation. They are currently reviewing referrals that will put them beyond their 500th wish granted.
Make-A-Wish Wyoming is celebrating their 30th year in the state with a Stories of Light Gala, from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Barr Nunn Hangar, 1410 Prairie Lane, Bar Nunn.
The first wish ever granted in Wyoming was in 1985 to a 10-year-old boy named Brian who wished for his own BMX bike. “Just this year, we did a Tour de Wish fundraising event all around the state, where families could ride their bicycles in honor of Brian and the first wish. It was an inaugural event this year to celebrate 30 years, but we plan on doing it next year,” said Legerski.
Legerski has been with the Wyoming chapter for five years, the last two years as its CEO. Before that, she was involved in high school in “Kids for Wish Kids.” The latter is “one of the biggest contributors to our fundraising,” said Legerski, “and is done mostly by student councils throughout the state.”
Legerski said she works at Make-A-Wish because she learns what families are going through, then, “You sit with their child and talk about a wish and you know, [the child’s] eyes light up and they start dreaming and they’re imagining, and they’re not thinking about their illness. We see an illness can steal a childhood, but a wish can give part of it back. Even the anticipation of a wish (being granted) can give the child the strength to fight their medical condition and the strength to endure all those treatments they have to go through.”
“A wish can have just as much impact on those granting it. It makes you want to get up and come to work every day!” said Legerski.
“We grant 30-35 wishes every year. But the national office says there’s likely as many as 50 children in Wyoming eligible,” said Legerski. “Our ultimate vision is to find every child in the state (who is eligible).”
There are misconceptions regarding eligibility. The child does not have to be terminally ill. A child with a life-threatening medical condition who has reached the age of 2½ and is younger than 18 at the time of referral is potentially eligible for a wish.
Referrals can come from any source, such as families, friends or health care workers. The child’s physician determines the ultimate eligibility of the recipient, and if the wish can safely be fulfilled.
Volunteer Lindsay Stilwell relates attending the fundraising banquet for Make-A-Wish two years ago and “half way through the program when they were showing all the videos and they had one about a little girl with a horse, from that moment on I pretty much cried through the whole thing. It was very moving. … The next week, they started putting me through the wish training.”
The foundation relies on its volunteers for much of what gets done. They make the visits to the families to determine the wish, throw parties such as “wish reveal parties” or “send-off parties.” They may deliver presents, stuff envelopes or help plan fundraising events. They receive great satisfaction in seeing wishes come true.
“To go in (to a family) and focus with one child, and to help that family and that child have that one wish that’s going to make such a difference in their life … it’s just enough,” said Stilwell.
“We feel it’s very important that the whole family gets to be part of the wish,” said Legerski. Parents and any siblings under 18 will be included if possible when granting a wish.
While many recipients want trips, other wishes that have been granted are meeting a famous musician, a synthetic year-around hockey rink in the backyard, a camper for the family and a wish to be a rock star. More wishes granted are on www.facebook.com/makeawishwy.
Transplants, neuro-generative diseases, cystic fibrosis, heart conditions and rare genetic disorders are all conditions that can qualify someone to receive their wish. If unsure if a child’s condition makes them eligible, call the Make-A-Wish office.
This year’s gala has many gift packages to bid on: a dog sledding experience on Casper Mountain, a golf package at Old Baldy that includes a putter made from Wyoming jade, a private party for 10 at Backwards Distillery and more.