Giving Hope and Happiness

Story and photo by: Cicily Perschon

“We hope not only improves a patient’s emotional health, but many medical practitioners believe it improves the physical health of the wish recipient,” says Daniel Dudley from Make-A-Wish, Utah.

There are many wonderful charities nationwide that donate to children with life threating diseases. Some mainly strive to bring hope and happiness to the children instead of donating to hospital funding. One large organization doing this is the Make-A-Wish foundation; aiming to make dreams a reality. Another charity that has strived to make wishes come true is Give Kids the World Village (GKTW), which was created 30 years ago by Henri Landwirth.

Like the Make-A-Wish foundation, Give Kids the World Village aims to bring happiness to children with life threating diseases and their families. The village is a 79-acre nonprofit resort in central Florida; sending children and their families here for a cost-free week vacation.

There are fun activities available for children with all disabilities. Give Kids the World Village provides transportation, meals, daily entertainment and tickets to theme parks. Within the village they rely entirely on volunteers to deliver food, pick up families at the airport and operate village activities.

In 2012 a pharmaceutical company known as Astella’s took a day off their busy workday and sent 1,300 employees to Give Kids The World Village to volunteer. Employees did yard work, wrapped gifts, painted, and rebuilt fences to help prepare for the GKTW weekly ‘Winter Wonderland Parade.’ Astella’s pharmaceutical company was the largest group of volunteers the organization had ever seen at one time.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation

“Over 225 volunteers who live across the state, meet with and guide families through the wish process… They are the lifeblood of the organization and vital to providing an incredible experience for each family we serve.” –Daniel Dudley

The Make-A-Wish foundation has many similar volunteer opportunities to GKTW and numerous helpful community donors. Daniel Dudley is the corporate and community manager at Make-A-Wish Utah. When asking why he chose to work for Make-A-Wish he claims, “I admire that Make-A-Wish Utah has a global brand and local touch. Its mission is implemented by local volunteers, donors and staff on behalf of local children and families in need; its impact is world-reaching. I’ve always been passionate about organizations that serve local causes.”

Dudley says there are many helpful community donors to Make-A-Wish Utah including various K-12 schools, corporations, foundations and individual community members. Also included in this list is the life-long partnership with the sorority Chi Omega.

Chi Omega Sorority

Chi Omega sorority established a national philanthropy in 2002 with the Make-A-Wish foundation. The sorority provides service for this organization by volunteering and fundraising for them. The Make-A-Wish foundation strives to give hope to children when they are diagnosed with life threatening medical conditions. Members of Chi Omega are helping to raise money for these children nationwide.

The University of Utah Chi Omega sorority is working hard to grant one special wish this year. Six-year-old Arysta was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 4 and wishes to go to Disney world to meet Princess Ariel.

“A wish to go to Florida Theme Parks is the most popular wish we receive. However, we find that there is a very personal reason behind every Florida Theme Park request. For Arysta, she wants to meet all of the Disney princesses, especially Ariel,” says Dudley.

Annie Daniels, philanthropy chair for Chi Omega Utah, has planned several events to help make Arysta’s wish come true. Some of the events include a movie night at the university union, dessert night at the Chi Omega sorority house and several fundraisers at local retail stores.

“I knew that if we were given a specific wish kid our chapter would be more motivated to raise money… the girls get to witness first hand how much we can impact a family by granting their wish.” Daniels explained.

The movie night was open to the public at a cost of $5 to attend. Dessert night was also open to the public, costing $5 at the door to have all the desserts you can eat. Stores such as Gypsy Soul Gallery and Madewell dedicated a night to Make-A-Wish. With the help of Chi Omega, for a limited time, a percentage of every purchase was donated to Arysta’s wish.

The final event that will be hosted is the Chi Omega charity ball held at the Red Lion hotel on December 10th. The ball will be open to the public and costs $20 a person. All proceeds will go to help grant Arysta’s wish. Daniels says that working with Make-A-Wish this year has made her sorority experience so much more rewarding.

All of the money raised during these events will go directly to Arysta’s wish fund. If more money than needed is raised it will then go towards fulfilling another Utah wish kid. “Make-A-Wish Utah, as a local chapter, plans on working with Chi Omega U of U every year, which builds a solid relationship between the two organizations” exclaims Dudley.

“I wanted to be philanthropy chair not only because I love the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but also because I know that with the right push Chi Omega could do so much more.” –Annie Daniels, Philanthropy Chair of Chi Omega

In America, the Make-A-Wish foundation grants a wish every 35 minutes, changing many lives for the better. In 2015 alone, Make-A-Wish granted 14,800 wishes. “We raise money to provide an emotional and psychological boost to a child-patient when it’s needed most. The most powerful aspect of a wish is the hope, strength and joy it provides,” Dudley explains passionately.

Over the course of fourteen years of working together with Make-A-Wish, Chi Omega has raised over 17 million dollars. Chi Omega Utah has raised slightly under 5 thousand dollars in the past month for Arysta’s wish alone.

This alliance is only growing stronger, donating nearly 1 million volunteer hours since 2002.14884673_1340270942679665_794712151546186996_oChi Omega at Utah Make-A-Wish with wish kid Arysta

15326539_10209869746854279_8676502878977320082_nGraphics by: Alana Irvin