Thirty Years of Wishes

By Founding Board Chair Susan Tormey

Close your eyes and make a wish…

We have all done it before somewhere…some time. We have thrown pennies in a fountain; we have made a dandelion seed fly off into the air; we have extinguished candles on a birthday cake while making a special wish; and we have wished upon a star looking up in the night sky.

makeawish-54f495637b39dWe have all made a wish and often in celebration of an anniversary, or some other milestone.

The dictionary defines a milestone as a significant or important point in the progress or development of something.  For Make-A-Wish Central New York, there have been many milestones throughout 30 years of making dreams come true:

  • The first full year of operation raised nearly $10,000. (1985)
  • First official office space was a lease agreement with the Hotel Syracuse for $1 a year.
  • The 100th wish was granted in 1989.
  • Diane Kuppermann was hired as the first full-time paid staff in 1992.
  • And, by 2015, more than 1,600 wishes were granted.

Three decades of milestones, magic and more than 1,600 wishes for special children across a 15-county area, bringing hope, strength and joy.

Who could have possibly imagined that?  Who could ever have wished so hard for that to come true?

Make-A-Wish embraces each and every wish child as a personal story of courage. With each wish, the entire family is emphasized so that the feeling of faith, family and friends brings even more magic to each wish.

CNY Press Conference 022
Pictured left to right: Terry Baum, Diane Kuppermann, Sue Tormey, Don Hamilton and Barb Galvin.

Thirty years ago in Syracuse, a handful of friends and colleagues touched so profoundly by the Make-A-Wish America story, came together to take that simple mission of magic and help wishes come true locally.  Because wishes create memories that last a lifetime!    


Some on the Founding Board could hardly bare to listen to the reports of pending wishes at each board meeting because of their sheer emotional impact. But once the magic of Make-A-Wish touches your heart, it truly remains there forever.

However challenging or seemingly impossible the wish, there was one word that was never an option. That word is NO! It does not appear anywhere in the Make-A-Wish dictionary.

Some on the Founding Board brought their rudimentary fundraising skills and engineered the creation of plastic wishing wells to attract and collect much needed pennies, dollars and dimes in those early years to be able to pay for the cost of a trip to Disney, attend a professional basketball game to meet Michael Jordan, have a shiny new toy tractor, or a beautiful new wardrobe and personal shopping spree.

No matter what the wish, there was always a way.

Thirty years later, there is a very large concrete wishing well in front of the Make-A-Wish Central New York office and an inspirationally designed wishing pond created by a Wish Sibling as an Eagle Scout project.  Both are symbols of wishes, of dreams, and of the ability to make them come true.

Thirty years later, there have been more than 1,600 wishes granted by hundreds of dedicated volunteers and staff across 15 counties, made possible through the generosity of school children, businesses, corporations, special events, and fundraisers all embracing what Make-A-Wish means to our children and families.

Thirty years later, there is a Star Wall representing the wishes of every child that has received a wish through our chapter. These stars shine brightly, giving hope and shining the light of appreciation and love for this wonderful organization.  That wall is part of the Make A Wish office, a special place on Campuswood Drive in East Syracuse donated by a philanthropic corporate leader in our community and renovated with a magical touch by hundreds of local contractors and talented workers to ensure the most beautiful, welcoming and wonderful home for our Wish Kids and Families.

Make-A-Wish defines generosity as a dedicated army of volunteers, wish granters, event planners and donors, and fundraisers across our 15-county service area. And it defines all of YOU, whose donations and support have brought hope, strength and joy to children facing extremely difficult medical challenges.

This community has been opening its generous heart to Make-A-Wish Central New York for 30 years.  We are so immeasurably grateful for this support and we look to a future filled with wishes made possible by your support.

Thank you for your compassion and embracing such a simple message and mission, and for the generous contributions that make magical memories forever.

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