Make-A-Wish Story

The Make-A-Wish foundation is probably one of the most recognizable non-profit charities in the world, with its website claiming to grant a wish for a child with a critical illness every 34 minutes.

But when it comes to helping grant wishes in the Central Valley, it really takes the strength of the community to make these wishes come true.

Kathleen Price, Regional Vice President of Make-A-Wish in the Central Valley, said that while there are 58 national chapters, a lot of the work comes from people within the community.

“Each of the Make-A-Wish chapters is its own separate nonprofit center, raising money in their own communities for local wish kids,” Price said. “At any given time, we will have 250 children in the Central Valley at some point in their wish journey.”

“Our sole mission is to help children by creating life changing wishes while they battle a critical illness,” Price said. “By bringing hope to a child, when they are sick and needed the most, we’re able to create better health outcomes for children in the valley.”

There is a process that comes with granting wishes.

The Central Valley Chapter gets most of its referrals from Valley Children’s Hospital. After that, a representative from Make-A-Wish schedules a 90-minute meeting with the child to figure out what wish they want the most. Once that is figured out, the team finds a way to make that wish a reality.

While Valley Children’s Hospital usually refers their “sickest children”, some who may be facing terminal illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean all hope is lost for the patients. In fact, according to Price, granting a wish helps buy time to treatment is often seen as a “turning point” in the child’s treatment.”

“We really are coming to them at the lowest point in their lives because childhood has been taken away from them. They are no longer living in a world of playdates and sleepovers they’re now in hospital appointments and medical treatments,” Price said. “We come to them to bring back childhood and to bring back the ability to dream.”

None of these miracles can happen without the help of volunteers.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” Price said. “There’s a place for everybody in the community to support children through Make-A-Wish, more than just writing a check because we all want to make an impact.”

Jesús Cano spent five years covering high school sports in the Bay Area, which included bylines in the Mercury News, East Bay Times and Brentwood Press. Jesús transferred to Fresno State in 2020 to pursue his education in journalism and hopes one day be a beat reporter covering a professional sports team. He is originally from Pittsburg (No H), California, a suburb community in the Bay Area.