Wishing upon a star


Students, community members gather to grant wishes.

By Megan Sanchez

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As the leaves fell and the cool autumn breeze made its way through Iowa City on Oct. 24, one campus group was walking through Lower City Park in an effort to make wishes come true.

The last time the University of Iowa Wishmakers were able to grant a wish for a child battling a serious illness was two years ago. However, thanks to the group’s Halloween Hawk Walk held Oct. 24, another “kiddo” will soon be receiving the chance of a lifetime.

The walk was a 1.5-mile trick-or-treat for Iowa City families and children to raise money for the Iowa chapter of Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling serious illnesses. These wishes range from trips to Disney World, a chance to be a pilot for a day, or even meeting the child’s favorite star.

UI junior and Walk head Jessie Silva said the walk raised around $1,500 — putting the group’s account in good shape to grant a wish this academic year.

“It’s just so exciting,” she said. “Kids just have the coolest ideas for wishes, and to be able to be any way part of that is so great. I cannot wait for after this walk when we actually get to start the process of [granting the wish.]”

Janice Woerner, a Cedar Rapids mother of five, brought her family to the walk. Her youngest son, Isaac, was diagnosed with leukemia at 3 1/2 years old. Today, the 7-year-old is done with chemo — his last treatment was in July — and is enjoying first grade.

Woerner said there was a time when the doctors did not think Isaac was going to make it, but she always believed he would pull through.

“It was still touch and go for quite a while,” she said. “But God is good, and he is here. I have to shout from the mountaintop, and I can’t stop. This is my personal faith, God brought him through, because he was not supposed to [make it.]”

The Woerner family was personally affected by Make-A-Wish after Isaac’s first nine-month treatment of intensive chemotherapy. The family went on a trip to the Give Kids the World Village in Florida — a 70-acre resort designed for to accommodate families on their wish trips to the many theme parks in the area.

Woerner said her family have more than 1,000 pictures from the trip. Memories such as Isaac getting to feed dolphins and getting a plethora of Disney character autographs.

“We get to have memories that are wonderful, because you never know if the child is going to make it,” she said. “There are a lot of families that we know of personally that their child has died either on the wish trip, or right after the wish trip. It makes that much of a difference.”

UI Wishmakers President Daisy Clymer said she is thrilled to meet the family whose wish the group will get to grant. She said when the group plans its fundraisers, the members try to focus on the volunteers and donors, because they are the reason the wishes come true.

“It’s amazing how many wishes have been granted, and how much money has been raised,” she said. “That’s all due to people who really care about giving these kids a chance to forget about what they’re going through, and do something that they really look forward to. It’s just an amazing feeling to watch and know that you’re doing what you can to give the kids that experience.”

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