At the end of the year (or in this case, Fiscal Year), people love to make lists looking back over the last 12 months and remembering their favorite moments.
This can be a wonderful thing! Looking back not only fills us with warm memories and a renewed sense of what we’re here to do, but also can be a great way to see just how far we’ve come! Looking back also helps us prepare for the coming year. Knowing where you’ve come from helps you plan where you’re going next. What we accomplished last year sets the foundation for what we can accomplish moving forward.
So, what do we see when we look back over the past 12 months? Well…
This year, Make-A-Wish Oklahoma granted an astounding 160 unique wishes to Oklahoma families. That’s 160 kiddos who were provided extra hope, strength and joy through their wish experience. We are so proud of the hard work our staff and volunteers accomplished this year!
2. We see Andrew give his wish away!
In truly unique fashion, 15-year-old Andrew decided that if he could have anything in the world, he’d actually want to GIVE a gift to someone else. Gifting a brand new grand piano to his piano teacher, friend, and mentor, Andrew showed the entire community the true spirit of generosity.
Watch Andrew’s wish come to life! (link to YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugxA_M0tWLA)
3. We see Sandy grant her 100th wish!
It is not every day (or year!) that we witness such a momentous milestone, but in 2016, Sandy Blevins officially surpassed 100 wishes granted. Serving as a volunteer for over seven years, Sandy has displayed incredible passion and love for our wish families. We love you Sandy!
Every year, Make-A-Wish Oklahoma hosts our own fundraising events, but we also benefit from a number of other events, campaigns and incredibly generous personal donations. Nearly every week (especially over the summer!), you can find some way to help support Make-A-Wish and the amazing kids we serve. It could be attending a golf outing in Tulsa, calling in to make a radio-thon donation, or attending Ropin’ for Wishes and cheering on your favorite cowboy. Every dollar that comes from these events – from a $5 gift to the larger corporate sponsorships – brings a child one step closer to the thing they wish for the most. These events not only help us raise the critical funds needed to grant every wish that comes through our doors, but also help us get our message out to those who might not know what we do or how we can help.
5. We see awesome kids raising money for awesome kids!
From Harding Charter Prep in OKC to Union Public Schools in Tulsa, hundreds of kids from across the state participated this year in one of our most popular fundraising programs, Kids for Wish Kids®
. Kids for Wish Kids lets students contribute directly to granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Students of all ages brainstorm fundraising ideas, develop plans of action, and watch their ideas come to life. By participating in Kids for Wish Kids, students learn new skills and see how they can change lives of kids in their own communities. If you’re interested in your student participating at their school, feel free to reach out to our staff at 405-286-4000
6. We see medical professionals!
Do you know the three ways a kid can be referred to Make-A-Wish
? 1. Kids can refer themselves; 2. Kids’ parents, legal guardians or another close family member can make a referral; and 3. Medical professionals can refer them. This third referral source – medical professionals – is how the vast majority of our kids come to us. Whether it’s a nurse in the oncology unit, an epilepsy doctor, a pediatrician or a social worker assigned to help a family navigate the labyrinth of a hospital, they can all refer a patient to our program. And thanks to all of them, we’re beginning to show how important having a wish granted can be to a kid
. When kids are granted a wish, they get more than just a great experience - medical professionals agree that a wish is often “good medicine” for the entire family.
7. We see a new CEO hired!
In January of this year, Make-A-Wish Oklahoma hired its new President and CEO, Katie Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s resume includes extensive experience in the fields of child advocacy, child and family services, and fund development. She joined Make-A-Wish following a six-year tenure as Executive Director at the Center for Children and Families in Norman, Oklahoma where she led the largest expansion in operating and capital revenue in the agency’s history along with a related expansion in child and family services. We are so lucky to have her a part of the Make-A-Wish Family!
8. We see playhouses/playsets galore!
Four special kiddos this year received their very own playhouses or playsets! Such a simple, sweet wish, we love taking the time to decorate and tailor the wish for each child. Jacelyn and Conner both received special needs playsets, Emma requested a blue playhouse with a slide, and Mia (pictured here) wished for the prettiest little yellow playhouse. These special kids remind us that there is so much JOY in the simplest of wishes!
9. We see wish kids continuing to fight!
Did you know that 80% of wish kids survive the diagnosis that qualifies them for a wish? We’re excited to see our former wish kids come back to see us – And we love to get updates from our families, letting us know how everyone is doing and what having a wish granted meant to them. Sometimes, we get truly amazing updates, like finding out that former wish kid Ethan graduated from high school and has plans to attend Oklahoma State this fall! These stories and updates keep our staff energized and remind us of why we work here.
10. We see all the kids we have yet to reach!
Granting over 160 wishes is an incredible accomplishment! But you know what’s an even bigger accomplishment? Granting the wish of EVERY eligible kid in Oklahoma! Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, we know that, with the right resources and funding, we could grant twice as many wishes than we do currently. And we won’t rest until we do!
How do we do that? How do we reach such a number? Well, here’s where you come in. Share this post with your friends, family and co-workers, and challenge them to get involved. Sign up to be a wish-granting volunteer, and be the “front line” of our efforts to reach every eligible child. Organize a neighborhood fundraiser to help us grant the wishes of kids in your city. Donate to Stories of Light or organize a team for Walk for Wishes. With your help, our chapter can reach more kids in the state of Oklahoma who need an extra bright spot in their lives.
So that’s what we see. What about you? What do you see when you look back over this year? Now looking ahead, how are you going to help us continue to bring hope, strength and joy to wish kids in Oklahoma? Tell us in the comments section!