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

I Sprinkle Happy

By Cheryllyn Tallman, Wish Granter
Pic of CheryllynSee the picture I’m holding in this photo? That’s what I do. And I love it!
I began my journey with Make-A-Wish in 2010. Initially I traveled to the office in Syracuse (home to Make-A-Wish Central New York) to volunteer as an office helper. My idea was to find out what these folks were all about and if they were truly sincere about their mission. What is their mission you ask?
“We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” 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

The Most Rewarding Experience You’ll Ever Have

By Benny Fairchild, Wish Granter

As a former newspaper reporter and current Make-A Wish® volunteer, I always did my best to make sure my colleagues accurately detailed the mission of Make-A-Wish® when writing about the foundation, wish families or Make-A-Wish® events.

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As a volunteer I’ve often encountered people saying, “Isn’t it depressing to work with dying children?” The answer I always give is something to the effect of, “It’s anything but. It is the most rewarding thing you could ever do.”

Defeating the misperception that Wish Kids are on their deathbeds may be tough, but I always refer back to our actual mission statement: “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy” with the key words obviously being “life-threatening medical conditions.” 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

The Art of Wish Granting

By Terry Baum, Wish Granter

My name is Terry Baum and I am a wish granter with Make-A-Wish Central New York.  Recently I completed my 33rd wish. These wishes have brought joy to not only me but also to the 33 children and their families over the past eleven years.

DSC04148I became a wish granter for many reasons but a couple still stand out in my mind today.  My nephew was granted a wish in 2002 after being diagnosed with a life-altering condition.  After he and his family returned home from their trip to Disney World my sisters and I became wish granters.  You could say we felt the need to “pay it forward.”   Another reason I joined Make-A-Wish Central New York was because I missed my connection with children after being an educator for 27 years.   I knew if I became a wish granter I would be able to reconnect with many children of various ages!   I have never regretted this decision. Continue reading

A Reluctant Wish Dad

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.

Scan_Pic0026We 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. Continue reading