Make A Wish has granted dreams for children with critical illnesses throughout the United States and internationally, but also has reached out to families in the San Gorgonio Pass area.
In the Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino County area, more than 480 children are waiting for their wishes to come true.
That also includes children in the Beaumont-Cherry Valley area. Jessica Orozco, corporate and community engagement coordinator for Make A Wish in Orange County-Riverside and San Bernardino counties, says that more than 350 children in this area have been granted wishes.
But what people do not realize is how expensive it can be to fund these wishes. Each Make A Wish that is granted costs $7,500. Locally, four to five Beaumont children have had wishes granted and their destination choice: Disneyland and Disney World. Make A Wish was founded in 1980. The first recipient was a 7-year-old boy named Chris, who wanted to be a police officer. He was given a helicopter ride and became a police officer in the Phoenix Police Department for a day.
Chris passed away a few months later, Orozco said.
“If not for him, other kids wouldn’t have their wishes granted,” she said. From that point on, Make A Wish formed 60 chapters in the United States and has 41 international affiliates. It is in 50 countries and has granted more than 415,000 wishes in the past 39 years.
According to Make A Wish, 15,617 wishes have been granted in the United States last year. Seventy-five percent of the wishes require travel, she said. Orozco said that there are key phrases in Make A Wish stories. They include: “I wish to have,” “I wish to be,” “I wish to meet,” “I wish to give,’’ and “I wish to go to.”
Any fundraising that takes place means that that money stays in this area. Make A Wish also accepts in-kind support such as gift cards, toys and backpacks.
There are many ways to raise money, such as peer-to-peer online campaigns, fitness challenges, auctions, golf tournaments and employee competitions.
The non-profit organization also accepts unused airline miles. Last year, Make A Wish used 2.9 billion air miles. The children who have been granted wishes are inspirational as well.
One child wishes to feed the homeless in San Bernardino; another child wants to give toys to the pediatric unit of the hospital that cared for him.