By Ed Mort, Wish Dad and former Board member
Many years ago, the company I work for was sponsoring a race for charity and Make-A-Wish Central New York was the designated foundation, this was the first time I met the wonderful Diane Kuppermann. This was also the first time I discussed the fact that my oldest two boys, Andrew and Michael were eligible for a wish. At that time the whole concept of “accepting charity” was something very new to me as the boys had only just been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I believed that my wife and I had the wherewithal to take my boys where ever they wanted to go and personally take on providing every one of their wishes.
We had always traveled, but it took on new meaning as we explored much of the east coast. Over two years later and countless miles, I realized that there were just some doors I simply could not open, no matter how much I tried. Eventually, I conceded and we allowed some absolutely wonderful people into our home, the wish granters. Always Disney fans, the boys decided that Disney would be a part of each of their unique wishes, but on separate coasts.
We experienced so many things on each of these trips with the most important to me, being the amazing outpouring of love and help from so many people. There are many hidden doors at both theme parks and the power of Make-A-Wish opens them all! Both trips were truly magical and are an important part of our greatest memories.
Several years later, I was invited to sit on the Board of Trustees of our local chapter. Surprise and honor, however, were soon met with fear and self doubt as I worried about what I could possibly offer a foundation of this caliber. I am no industry executive, I am just an engineer with little knowledge of how a charitable organization is run. I soon found out though, that my greatest strength in this position actually came from one of my biggest challenges.
My sons, with their incredible personal strength and ever weakening muscles had showed me what it meant to live life to the fullest. I could channel their experiences on the wishes and explain what it meant for a family to experience a wish, being a Wish Dad after all. I spent three fantastic years on the board. I quickly came to realize that not only was the foundation providing amazing wishes, they were being run very well.
The group of people running this chapter never lose sight of the mission and are constantly challenging themselves to always improve individual wishes, events and finances. I learned there are few foundations in our country that provide such a large percentage of the income right back to their mission. Did I mention that Diane Kuppermann was wonderful?
Finally, one of the proudest moments in my life was when Michael, my oldest, was honored with the Cindy Award as the most outstanding volunteer for our chapter. He volunteers for Make-A-Wish, not because I did, but because he sees the importance of what is being done and how it forever changed his life!
Reluctance has led to passion and I am proud to be part of a great organization and will always be a Wish Dad.