Ripe apples dotted rows of trees at Wilson’s Apple orchard on Oct. 21, where a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Iowa was held.
There were hors d’oeuvres, apple picking, crafts, and live music, but the main part of the event were speeches given by families and individuals who have had wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish program.
Wendy Mayer, a licensing specialist with the Iowa City Clerk’s Office and a member of the Make-A-Wish committee who has volunteered with the organization for eight years, said she continues to give her time because of the children she meets.
“We get the joy of visiting the children and talking about their wishes,” Mayer said. “We would like to grant every wish that comes our way.”
Make-A-Wish Iowa was founded in 1987, and the organization grants a child’s wish every other day. Fundraisers such as these help make that possible, Mayer said, because wishes are funded completely through donations.
Mayer noted that wishes are getting more expensive because of the current state of the economy.
The most popular wish the organization receives is to travel somewhere, and travel costs can add up quickly, Mayer said.
Erika Callaghan, a Make-A-Wish Committee member, said donations are vital in granting big wishes, such as travel wishes.
“We don’t receive any funding, so all the money is from donors,” Callaghan said. “There are a lot of kids that deserve wishes, and we need the donations to make those wishes come true.”
Callaghan said the goal of the Oct. 21 fundraiser was to raise money for the cost of a wish for an Iowa child.
“We’re hoping to raise enough money for the cost of one wish, which is over $12,000 in the state of Iowa,” Callaghan said, noting that 78 cents of every $1 spent at the fundraiser goes toward granting a wish.
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Callaghan, who started volunteering to bring positivity to the world, said she loves the outcome that granting a wish has on a child’s outlook.
“Once the child receives their wish, the parents observe that it makes the child feel stronger,” she said. “A lot of parents identify it as a turning point in the treatment.”
Bri Swope, the chair of the Iowa City Make-A-Wish Committee, began volunteering after she left her job at the Stead Children’s Hospital.
“When I left and started working at the university as an instructor, I missed that feeling of being involved and hearing the stories from the kids,” Swope said. “I still wanted to make an impact.”
She said her favorite part about Make-A-Wish is her ability to distract the children from being in the hospital.
“As a wish-granter, we get to go out and meet different kids and different families, and I get to play with them and learn about their wishes,” Swope said.
Swope said Make-A-Wish Iowa granted 192 wishes last year, which averages out to a wish every other day — the goal for this year is to grant 200.
Swope said the goal of Make-A-Wish Iowa is to reach every eligible child, and the Oct. 21 event was imperative to making that possible.
“For that moment, taking their mind off that hospital experience for their wish is really the reason why all of us are on this committee and why events like these are so important,” Swope said.