A child is supposed to play outside, go on family vacations, and be curious about the world. They are learning about themselves, discovering their likes and dislikes. They are worrying about school and getting that A on the next test. However, for some children, what is supposed to be an ordinary life is cut short because of a critical illness.
In 2018, the Make A Wish Foundation of South Carolina granted 207 wishes to children with critical illnesses, between the ages of 2 1/2 to 18. At Make A Wish, a wish is like medicine. It helps give a child a sense of normalcy and individuality.
A big misconception is that wishes are only granted to children with terminal illnesses. The illness could be malignant, progressive or degenerative. No matter the illness, what’s important is to highlight why they are special, and not why they are sick. Wish Manager, Katlyn Larrieu mentions, “The excitement of the wish helps a child get through their treatment. A wish gives them the power of choice again and to celebrate who they are.”
The anticipation of the wish gives a child the courage to go through one more radiation treatment, or one more needle prick. They have something to look forward to, and a chance to live a life of normalcy. Wishes are not just nice, but they are necessary. Physicians often contact Make A Wish to tell them how a wish changes a child after their experience. It encourages determination and more hope. “We are giving memories to families that need good memories, that is priceless and powerful,” says Larrieu.
The South Carolina chapter of Make A Wish is made up of only 15 employees, and depends on over 250 volunteers across the state. Any person can volunteer, or hold a fundraiser to support the foundation. They can donate a vehicle, or even airlines miles, to cover travel for these well-deserved wishes. “It is because of our volunteers across the state that we can grant the wishes,” says Larrieu.
Volunteers are involved with two wishes a year and ten hours of service. They get the paperwork done and figure out the wish, while keeping monthly contact with the family. The volunteers throw a big wish celebration with the child and their family. According to Larrieu, volunteers have the fun part of the job. Make A Wish volunteers are allowed to do more, giving more of a personal connection during the process. It is a unique experience where you can see everything follow through, and see the gift of the child’s excitement.
Make A Wish Foundation leaves a lasting and long-term impact on a child’s life. It isn’t just a nice gesture or a kind thing to do. “A wish can change the course of someone’s life. It is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Larrieu.
Thank you Wish Manager, Katlyn Larrieu for the interview and pictures.
If you are interested in volunteering in South Carolina go to: https://sc.wish.org/ways-to-help/volunteering/becoming-a-volunteer