By Cody Thompson, Wish Kid and volunteer
Over twenty years ago I received a call from my Aunt telling me that I was nominated for a wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Little did I know this would become a huge part of my life.
I still remember my Wish Granters, Scott and Meaghan Green, who would help bring about this life-changing event. One of the first things they asked was if I had been thinking about what I wanted to wish for…I definitely had some ideas in mind! After discussing some of them, one that seemed to stick out was my interest in working with marine animals. Make-A-Wish ran with that idea at full speed!
I was flown out to San Francisco along with my family where they set me up with marine trainers at a park called Marine World Africa USA. There I learned how the dolphins, sea lions, whales, and walruses were trained and I even got to see some newborn dolphin calves. I spent three days with the trainers and a few more days exploring San Fran. Soon it came to an end though (or so I thought) and I went home.
Shortly after arriving home I received a letter from the head trainer, Deb Marrin, stating that they decided to name one of the baby dolphins “Cody.” The word traveled from there and soon a television program called Wild About Animals reached out stating they wanted to do a story on me and my wish, and so we did. What an honor it was and what a story I have to tell, all stemming from my single wish! But it didn’t end there.
Shortly after my wish I realized how much the foundation does and knew I wanted to be a part of that. With the help of Diane Kuppermann (Make-A-Wish Central New York President and CEO) I started to volunteer for events, whether it was taking part in the event, setting it up, speaking, or anything else I could do. What I really wanted to do though was become a Wish Granter and become directly involved in the wish process.
In 2009, I did just that! After moving to Philadelphia many years later I started working with the Make-A-Wish chapter there and have been granting wishes ever since. Let me tell you there is nothing like it! You meet these kids, who along with their parents are stronger than just about anyone you will ever come in contact with. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get teary eyed at times, but it’s not always brought on by sadness. When you get to present a wish to a child and their family and you see their faces light up, it’s a feeling I truly cannot put into words. You may just have to experience it for yourself!
When I was preparing to speak at a recent event I realized that my wish hasn’t ended. That single experience itself may have been a moment in time, but the memories that I reflect back on and the stories I share are something I will always have. On top of that, I’ve made lifelong friends, I get to do something I love, and I get to bring genuine happiness to people’s lives. I never would have imagined the doors a wish could open and the experiences I would gain. For that I want to thank Make-A-Wish for everything they do!