Local Business Holds Fundraiser Benefiting Make-A-Wish

(Photo courtesy of Make-A-Wish)

Michelangelo’s Pizzeria held its tenth annual golf tournament on Saturday, May 14 to help raise money for Make-A-Wish Central California.

Following a hiatus because of COVID-19 the Rosales family, owners of Michelangelo’s, set up their fundraiser and ended the evening with a silent auction, with proceeds from the fundraiser going towards granting multiple wishes that help give hope to children facing life threatening illnesses.

The honoree of the fundraiser Saturday was local customer, Tristen Graham. Tristen is a first grader at Foothill Elementary, and was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019. He has since finished chemotherapy treatment in 2021.

Tristen’s parents, Tiffany and Tyler Graham, said that since finishing his treatment Tristen has been “thriving”.

Tristen’s mother Tiffany said they had brought Tristen to Michelangelo’s since he was a baby and have built a personal relationship with the Rosales family.

“We’ve been coming to Michelangelo’s for years and one of the [Rosales] brothers was just talking about how they remember Tristen coming in with his Mickey Mouse costume when he was two or three and when he was diagnosed they were like ‘You’re our wish kid. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do we got you, don’t worry about it.’ So being the honoree for them is really special,” Tiffany said.

For Omar Rosales, Manager at Michelangelo’s Pizzeria, the fundraiser is a way of showing the Clovis community the same level of support that Michelangelo’s has received since opening up 21 years ago.

Rosales reflected on Tristen’s time going through chemotherapy and remembered how one of Tristen’s favorite meals was cheese pizza, and how Tristen’s grandfather would make a special stop by Michelangelo’s to pick up Tristen’s favorite cheese pizza with ranch.

Rosales said knowing that Tristen is done with his chemotherapy is a “huge blessing”.

“He’s such a sweet kid and we’ve seen him at his highs and we’ve seen him at his lows. We’ve known him since he was a baby and it’s been great to see how he’s pulled through this and how his family has pulled through this and that’s just one more reason we need to do this [fundraiser],” Rosales said.

Tristen’s wish is to go surfing in Hawaii, and the community came out to help support that wish with dozens of community members gathering in the closed off street in front of Michelangelo’s for the dinner and silent auction portion of the fundraiser.

“For us to be able to do this on a city street, that shows how much love Clovis has for us,” Rosales said.

Having the opportunity to see the community rally together to support a cause like Make-A-Wish is a unique experience.

“They say Clovis is a way of life, and it really is. It’s different in a good way, it’s more community oriented,” Rosales said.

Kathleen Price, Regional Vice President of Central California for Make-A-Wish said that it’s “heart-warming” knowing local business and community members like the Rosales family continue to host their fundraiser for children like Tristen, in hopes of adopting wishes for children who are battling critical illnesses.

“This is really what it’s all about. We really rely upon volunteers to support the work that we do. Make-A-Wish has got a very small team of employees, and a really large territory and so it’s families like the Rosales family that help us to grant more wishes for local kids,” Price said.

Courtney Snapp, Senior Development Manager for Make-A-Wish, said that she noticed over the years that a lot of their sponsors are customers from Michelangelo’s.

“It’s people that support their business and love their pizza, their food, and their drinks and the comradery that takes place here and that builds relationships with the Rosales family which then translates into supporting Make-A-Wish which is really cool,” Snapp said.

For more information on how to help make a child’s wish possible through Make-A-Wish contact Courtney Snapp at 559-313-8265 or by email at csnapp@necannv.wish.org.

Adam Ricardo Solis has written for The Collegian as a staff reporter covering a variety of topics and transferred from Fresno City College to Fresno State where he majored in agriculture business. He is excited to incorporate what he has learned about the agriculture industry in the Central Valley into future articles while also covering a variety of other community matters.