What's an organization that makes wishes come true for critically ill children to do in the midst of a deadly pandemic? Keep your eye on the mission and make the changes necessary to keep granting wishes, says Katie Ferrell, marketing and communications manager for the Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter.
For many of those children, whose fragile conditions don't need additional challenges, the six months many Hoosiers have spent self-isolating and working from home can be especially affecting.
“The vast majority – nearly 80% – of our children do go on to beat their illnesses and lead a normal, healthy life,” Ferrell said in a phone interview on Friday. “We believe wishes are a part of the healing process, so wishes are more important than ever.”
While wishes involving travel or large parties or gatherings are on hold, wishes for shopping sprees, room makeovers, campers, playsets and above-ground pools are still being granted.
And the money for granting those wishes comes from donations. The agency's annual gala – usually featuring dinner, drinks and celebrity guests in a large banquet room – netted $549,000 last year for wishes in Indiana. This year, they had to take the event online, streamed on the agency's social media channels. The virtual gala netted $457,000, Farrell said, enough to grant the wishes of more than 150 Hoosier children.
This is the national Make-A-Wish Foundation's 40th anniversary, and the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter was founded in 1983. In the 37 years since, Ferrell said, the tri-state chapter has granted the wishes of 17,500 children, including nearly 5,200 in Indiana alone.
As for the agency's wish? “More than 500 children in Indiana are waiting right now,” said Ferrell. “We want to grant the wish of every eligible child and really feel like wishes can't wait.”