My involvement with Make-A-Wish® Colorado began nearly five years ago. Inspired by my mom, an active volunteer and wish grantor, I began working with the office, brainstorming ways to fundraise within my community. It was then that I learned about Kids For Wish Kids®, a Make-A-Wish program that does just what it says – allows kids to raise money to help grant wishes.
In 2010, I introduced “Wish Week” to my school, Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, CO. It was a simple idea. As a school, we would dedicate one week to raising the funds required to grant the wish of a child (current wish cost is $7,500). My student council class worked diligently organizing a week of events that would ensure our success. In addition to our school’s annual dodge ball tournament, we held “A Dish for A Wish” event sponsored by different local restaurants, a student vs. faculty basketball game, and two assemblies, one at the beginning of the week to get the students informed and eager to participate, and one at the end of the week to celebrate our achievements. While we were hopeful and quite confident that the week would be a success, we were not prepared for the tremendous amount of support and selflessness that we received from the school and community.
In just four years, Rock Canyon High School raised more than $150,000, granting the wishes of 26 children. When I began this project, I could never have dreamed that it would become the overwhelming success that it is today. Rock Canyon holds the title for top fundraising high school in the state and is also one of the top fundraising schools in the country! From going to Australia to meeting the Colorado Rockies, we have made 26 unique and inspiring wishes come true. The real triumph of this week, though, goes far beyond the money raised. It is the impact of seeing a diverse group of students put aside their differences and their own struggles for one week to achieve the same goal. It is the self-sacrifice of the students who shave their heads in honor of those who are not offered the same decision, and the students who put in extra hours at work just to donate their tips. This unity is attributed to the wish kids and their inspirational stories of strength and perseverance through adversity and their willingness to share their journey with others. Wish Week bonds the school and community in an unprecedented and unintended, but most magical way. It is truly the most life-changing and humbling experience I have been part of.
Wish Week is, and will continue to be, Rock Canyon’s commitment to an amazing organization. It is a celebration of the children who have the courage to fight back against aggressive illnesses and a reminder of the fragility of life. It is our promise to give back some of the blessings that have been given to us. While it is impossible to adequately describe the impact that helping grant a wish has, here is what I can tell you:
- To grant the wish of a child with a life-threatening medical condition is to give them hope.
- It gives them a sense of normalcy that has been robbed from them for so long.
- It is a gratifying, emotional, and consuming accomplishment.
- To grant a wish is to change a life.
To learn more about Make-A-Wish® Colorado Kids For Wish Kids® program or to get your school/group involved, please contact Lauren Beede or Ashlee Carey.
(Nancy and Hayley Warner, Wish Grantor Volunteers)