If you ask parents what they want most for their children, they will invariably answer “health and happiness,” so it is devastating to learn that your child has a life-threatening illness. Your family’s life gets turned upside down as the focus has to be centered on doing everything possible for your sick child. It is clear how this affects the parents, but often we forget the impact it has on the child’s siblings.
Having mother’s intuition, Michelle Wellborn knew something wasn’t right with her five-month old daughter, Lily. After multiple doctor appointments with several specialists, Lily was finally diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare and intractable form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. For years, their pediatrician offered to recommend Lily to the Make-A-Wish® Central and Western NC Chapter, but the Wellborns always felt that somebody else deserved the wish. “It wasn’t until the doctor said, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about her. They can do things for her that you can’t do.’ We really understood that when Lily’s wish was granted and we got there,” said Michelle. “Lily’s wish was to meet Barney at Universal in Orlando.”
“It was really the first normal family vacation we had had,” said Lily’s sister, Logan.
That trip made a huge impression on, then 12-year-old, Logan and supporting Make-A-Wish® became a passion of hers. “I saw how awesome Lily’s wish turned out to be and how much effort Make-A-Wish® took into making sure that everything went well,” said Logan. Two years ago, Logan organized Team Lily for Walk for Wishes. This is an annual event that takes place at Tanglewood during the Festival of Lights. On this night, Tanglewood is closed to the public, and participants are able to walk on a route through the park. Last year, Team Lily raised $1,600 for Make-A-Wish®. Not only will Logan keep and hope to grow Team Lily, but she has gotten her school involved with Make-A-Wish® as well.
Elected to the Junior National Honor Society at Forsyth Country Day School, Logan knew that, besides high marks in academics, members were required to provide service hours. “I knew Make-A-Wish® was a great organization seeing it first hand with Lily’s wish,” said Logan. “I thought it was a really great way to give back. Entering high school, I was able to enlist the help of members of girls’ service clubs, so our numbers grew a little. This year, we plan to increase our numbers even more by going outside the clubs and, hopefully, going into the community and getting other area high schools involved.”
It is no wonder then that, last year, Logan was honored by becoming the first junior member of the W.I.S.H. (Women Inspiring Strength and Hope) Society. “I was approached about W.I.S.H. Society and felt, because Logan had done so much more for Make-A-Wish®, that if they had junior members, I would like her to get this opportunity,” said Michelle. Last year was the inaugural year of the W.I.S.H. Society in our area.
“The W.I.S.H. Society is an honor society for women who are highly invested in the community philanthropically,” said Director of Development, Christy Collum. “They are usually very successful in business as well. For the senior W.I.S.H. Society members, it is a networking opportunity to meet other like-minded women and work together for philanthropy in the community, grant wishes and help spread awareness about Make-A-Wish®. The average cost of a wish is $6,000, so each honoree commits to raising that amount. This year, we will grant 260 wishes. We know there are an additional 200 children who would qualify, but they do not know about Make-A-Wish® and have not been referred to us. This year, Make-A-Wish® began allowing anyone, not just the child’s doctor, to make a referral — including the child. Make-A-Wish® grants wishes to children ages two-and-a-half to 18 years of age with, as its mission states, “life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
Spreading the word and getting involved are crucial to this wonderful organization. Many assume the Make-A-Wish® Foundation gets money from a national headquarters, but all the money raised through donations and fundraisers stays here in our community. “Our area covers 51 counties in central and western North Carolina,” said Collum. “Although this area’s Make-A-Wish® was founded in 1985, we still need help in getting the word out about this wonderful organization.”
There are many ways to get involved. Please take a moment to visit the website at www.nc.wish.org, and discover how you can make a child’s wish come true!