BUCKHANNON – A representative from the Make-A-Wish Foundation encouraged people to attend Walk for Wishes April 18 in Morgantown.
Make-A-Wish Regional Coordinator Vanessa Strickland attended the March 5 Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss what Make-A-Wish strives to accomplish and how people can help.
“Our mission is to grant the heartfelt wishes of children who are fighting critical illnesses. We offer them a chance to reach for the stars and give them a chance to reflect on something other than doctor visits and hospital stays and their illness in general,” Strickland said. “Studies show that children who have had a wish … have less hospital stays, and they’re more willing to comply with their treatment, and we see a lot of our kids actually turn around and overcome the illness they’re fighting.”
She said Make-A-Wish is a local and international organization with 60 chapters in the U.S. and 30 international chapters. The chapter she represents is the Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia chapter. Her chapter covers 57 counties in Pennsylvania and the entire state of West Virginia, but her office specifically focuses on the northern half of West Virginia.
“In the last three years, we have granted four wishes for kids in Upshur County,” Strickland said. “Sadly, we’re seeing an increase in those numbers. We’ve only had four kids in the last three years, but for fiscal year 2020, we already have two kids from Upshur County who are waiting to have their wishes granted.”
She said they have two kids from Upshur County who have wishes pending, but they receive more kids every day.
“Across the 33 counties that our office in Morgantown serves, we currently have 42 kids waiting to have their wishes granted and the average cost of one wish is $4,400,” Strickland said. “In order for us to grant all 42 of those wishes – and like I said, we’re getting more referrals every single day – it’s going to cost us about $184,000, so that is why I’m here today to ask for your help in spreading the word about our upcoming Walk for Wishes event.”
The Walk for Wishes event is a celebration of the more than 500,000 wishes that Make-A-Wish has granted, and this year will also mark their 40th anniversary.
“While we’re raising funds to grant these wishes at the event, we’re also just showing our wish kids that there’s a whole community of people behind them, helping them fight and that we’re going to be here to help them get through their illness,” Strickland said.
Strickland’s chapter will have its fourth annual Walk for Wishes April 18 at the WVU Rec Center. Sign-in will start at 9 a.m. and the 5k starts at 10 a.m.
“We have guest speakers and past ‘Wish’ kids,” Strickland said. “The past ‘Wish’ kid this year is from Lewis County and he’s coming to share his experience. He went to Disney World over Christmas, so he’s coming to tell us how that impacted his life and his treatment and the how much better he’s feeling since having a wish.”
She said it is free to sign up for the walk, but the person who raises the most money this year will earn two tickets to Disney World.
“Anyone that’s interested in participating can sign up again for free at walkforwisheswv.com,” Strickland said. “We’re also seeking monetary support from the community through sponsorship opportunities. We have a lot of really great sponsorship opportunities for the walk and I’d be happy to discuss that with anybody who is interested in sponsoring.”
She said 100 percent of proceeds that come from Upshur County are going to Upshur County kids. Anyone who wishes to mail a donation may send it to: 913 Canyon Road Morgantown, WV 26508.
Sign up for the Walk by clicking here.