25 years of wish granting: Celebrating Debbie Bender and Marilyn Sanson

Twenty-five years ago, Make-A-Wish Central New York wish-granting volunteers Marilyn Sanson and Deborah “Debbie” Bender, became involved with the organization after their sons embarked on a cross country adventure of a lifetime. Debbie and Marilyn’s sons biked more than 3,000 miles from Seattle to Syracuse to raise funds for Make-A-Wish Central New York. 12376008_1088847357821961_6668541564263758513_n[1]Upon their sons’ return to Syracuse, Debbie and Marilyn, otherwise known as the “dynamic duo,” began volunteering as wish granters and have since granted wishes for more than 113 children  throughout the 15 counties served by Make-A-Wish Central New York. Their exemplary work ethic has inspired practices and policies in use today for volunteer training and to ensure each wish is as unique as the children who make them. Continue reading

Team Alex and Team Make-A-Wish

By Jim McLaughlin, Wish Dad

Editor’s note: Wish Kid Alex McLaughlin, 11, is running his first Boilermaker 5K via the Charity Bib Program. This will be Alex’s first time with Team Make-A-Wish; his dad, Jim, has run with the team since 2014.

My wife Bonnie and I both started running the Boilermaker about 15 years ago. We have missed a few years here and there, but have each done several 5K’s and 15K’s. If not for the Make-A-Wish Charity Bib, we would probably both be retired from running.

Our son Alex was diagnosed on August 24, 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He completed treatment on his 10th birthday, October 24, 2014. Throughout his treatment we became aware of many different charities and fundraisers benefitting many sick children and their families. Make-A-Wish was obviously a major one that granted Alex’s wish to meet his favorite baseball team in 2012. Continue reading

Colgate Wishmakers: Inspired by a Wish

by Matthew Miller, Colgate Wishmakers on Campus Club President

3-1My name is Matthew Miller and I am currently a senior at Colgate University.  I co-founded the Make-A-Wish Colgate club my sophomore year with a few of my very close friends.  First, I want to share a little bit about why I wanted to get involved with Make-A-Wish. 

I attended Summit High School in New Jersey for all four years of high school. One of my close family friends had a wish granted for her going into high school. Sarah and I had grown up together and, for about 10 years, lived on the same block.  Continue reading

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? Continue reading

Full Circle: The Impact of a Wish

By Jeff Smith, Adult “Wish Kid” and Volunteer

Being a part of the Make-A-Wish family has truly been a rewarding and life-changing experience. I began interning at Make-A-Wish in May 2015. A few weeks into my internship, social media volunteer and Wish Kid Mike Mort approached me (the man behind the blog) and asked if I’d be interested in sharing my story. I’ve never really been a very open person when it comes to talking about my illness, so I was very hesitant at first and kind of kept putting it off. Now, three months later, I’ve volunteered for two events and worked in the office weekly. From this experience, I’ve come to realize I’m a part of a very special group of people with the power to inspire, give hope, and show that there’s a world beyond hospitals and doctors offices.

iv-drip.Awful things happen all the time, but you never really expect it to happen to you. I certainly didn’t think I was going to be diagnosed with Leukemia. Like most teenagers, I thought I was basically bulletproof. The change from a typical 15-year-old to a cancer patient was definitely not the easiest transition. My daily routine, instead of attending class and participating on my high school’s sports teams, became frequent hospital visits and constant treatments. The things I thought were the most important in the world at the time became second to my illness. Fortunately, I didn’t have very many complications and within two months I was in remission. I’m happy to say five years later I’m still cancer free and have never felt better! Continue reading

The Never-Ending Wish

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!

Picture of Cody on his wish - WalrusI 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. Continue reading

Running For Wishes

By Kate Hennigan, YPAC Vice Chair and Wish Granting Volunteer

For the third year, I have signed up to run the Boilermaker, a 15k road race in Utica, New York. I’m running as part of the Charity Bib Program and raising funds for Make-A-Wish® Central New York.

Kate Hennigan Boilermaker 2013 - 2nd from right
Kate at the 2013 Boilermaker (standing, 2nd from right)

Additionally, I am a member of the Make-A-Wish Young Professional Advisory Council, serving as the Vice Chair, and am also a Wish Granting Volunteer. At the moment I’m working on two wishes.

My first wish was for a spunky 13-year-old girl named Molly, who wished to meet the “Shaytards” (a family who video blogs on YouTube). Molly and her family went to California and met the “Shaytards” at VidCon. It was a trip of a lifetime for Molly. Afterward, when I saw Molly at the airport, she was exhausted but told me she had an incredible time. Unfortunately, a few months later Molly passed away. In speaking with her parents, they thanked us over and over for helping her wish come true. Her mom said Molly spoke of her trip every day and that the family would have the memories to cherish forever. The comment that spoke the most to me was when Molly’s mom said that Make-A-Wish allowed Molly to cross something off her bucket list. Continue reading