Recently, 10 women were honored by Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina as the inaugural class of the 2014 Triad W.I.S.H. Society. These outstanding women were nominated for their professional and philanthropic achievements. Each accepted the challenge to raise a minimum of $6,000, which is the average cost of granting a wish to a child who has been diagnosed with a medical condition that is considered to be life-threatening. The freshman class of honorees raised more than $62,000 with more donations arriving daily.
“A wish come true helps children feel stronger, more energetic, more willing and able to battle their life-threatening medical conditions,” said Amy Brindley, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina. “For many of them, it marks a turning point in their fight against their illnesses. For the doctors, nurses and other health professionals, the wish experience works in concert with medicine to make their patients feel better, emotionally and even physically. A wish improves children’s state of mind; replacing fear with happiness and helping them feel like normal kids again.”
Each of this year’s honorees became official fairy godmothers and each was presented with a beautiful, framed wand. Among the recipients, Lindsey Auman was announced the Woman of the Year. Auman, a North Carolina native, raised $11,850 for Make-A-Wish. She works tirelessly giving back to her community and has been recognized by several organizations for her efforts. Accepting the nomination as a W.I.S.H. Society Honoree was an easy decision for Auman. “I was touched personally seeing a child’s wish granted at the 2014 Derby event for Make-A-Wish,” said Auman. “The opportunity for me to bring that same happiness to a child who is in need of something super special is what made me accept the honoree role. Being the W.I.S.H. Society of Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina Woman of the Year is, in a word, humbling. I don’t fundraise or do any philanthropic work for attention for myself, but rather to gain attention for causes that I care about. All of the other nine honorees are incredibly impressive women, who did earnest and thoughtful fundraising and are women of the year in their own rights. I think we would all agree that our real admiration is for the Wish Families and Wish Kids who, through love and strength, are inspiring all of us to greater depths of hope and appreciation.”
The Central and Western North Carolina chapter of Make-A-Wish granted 246 wishes last year with a goal set for 260 this year. “We do not receive funds from the government; all of our funding comes from private donors, foundations and corporate partners,” said Brindley. “Our most popular wish is to go to Disney World®, but we have many requests for room makeovers, shopping sprees, travel to other destinations and new gaming systems. Our wishes fall into five categories: I wish to be, I wish to have, I wish to go, I wish to meet and I wish to give. We grant a wish, on average, every one and a half days. Our service area includes four major medical centers: Levine Children’s Hospital, Hemby Children’s Hospital, Mission Hospital and Brenner Children’s Hospital.”
Forsyth Woman magazine Publisher and Owner Keela Johnson was among the honorees. For those who are fortunate enough to know her, this comes as no surprise. Her boundless energy and determination to give back to her community made her nomination a perfect choice. “Community is something that is very near and dear to my heart,” said Johnson. “After all, this is the community that has embraced and supported my business throughout the years! So, it’s important to me to find ways to give back. This year, I chose to focus my energy on supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, through the W.I.S.H. Society initiative. I was so touched by the stories of these courageous children and the battles they fight every day. I am in awe of their parents and siblings, families and friends, who support them and smile through such difficult situations. I feel humbled and blessed that my children are healthy, and I cannot imagine the fear these families face. As a parent, I wanted to do what I could to support those who are facing life-threatening illnesses. While I can’t cure cancer, and I don’t know how to help remedy the physical illnesses of these children, I have the power within me to raise the money needed to give someone priceless memories. So, how could I possibly say no? But in the end, it was not as simple as me raising money for W.I.S.H.; I ended up so much richer on the other end of this. The experience of working with the W.I.S.H. Society and the families they support has been life changing. The people I have met have been the very definition of generosity, and the outpouring of support has left me speechless.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the ceremony came from a nine-year-old wish recipient, Ryan. After telling the audience of how his wish to be a dolphin trainer had been granted, he handed the microphone to his father who told about Ryan’s diagnosis of an aggressive form of cancer called Medulloblastoma. A moment later, Ryan asked for the microphone back and said, “I don’t know if you guys know, but thousands of people have already died from cancer. But, I’m living my life for all of those people.” So incredibly profound from one so young.
To learn more about how you can help make a child’s wish come true through donations or volunteering, contact the Greensboro Make-A-Wish office at 336.778.2522, or visit the website at www.nc.wish.org.