|The Make-A-Wish Foundation® is the largest
and most respected wish-granting organization in the world. It exists for one purpose: to
fulfill the special wishes of children under the age of 18 who have life-threatening
illnesses. The foundation is a nonprofit, privately funded organization composed of more
than 11,000 volunteers in 82 chapters in the United States and its territories. In
addition, Make-A-Wish Foundation® International has 13 affiliates in other nations.
Volunteers around the world have fulfilled more than 50,000 wishes since the first
Make-A-Wish® chapter was founded in 1980.
GRANTS 50,000TH WISH
PHOENIX, August 19, 1997What child doesn'tt
dream of being a cowboy? A four-year old boy named Aaron will get the chance to make that
dream a reality, and at the same time help the Make-A-Wish Foundation® mark an
important milestoneits 50,000th wish.
Aaron has sickle cell anemia, a chronic, often painful blood disease which can be
life-threatening if not properly managed. When Aaron spends a week as a cowboy on a
working Montana ranch next week, he becomes the 50,000th child to have a wish fulfilled
through Make-A-Wish, the worlds largest wish-granting organization.
Like many little boys his age, Aaron loves horses and wants to be a cowboy. "I
dont know where he gets it," smiles his mom, Judith. "Hes just
always loved horses. He went to a birthday party recently where they had a pony and we
could nott get him to come down!" Thanks to the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish
Foundation in California, Aarons wish is about to come true.
On Wednesday, August 27th, Aaron will leave his hometown of San Francisco to head to his
wish location of Dillon, Montana. Aarons festive sendoff at the San Francisco
airport will include balloons, banners, and even some down-home western music to put him
in the mood for his Montana arrival. Once in Dillon, Aaron will spend five
adventure-packed days on the Selkirk ranch learning how to be a real cowboy. Selkirk ranch
is owned by the Zenchiku Land & Livestock company and is an 88,000-acre working ranch.
On the night of his arrival, Aaron will be the honored guest at a welcoming Bar-B-Que. On
Thursday, he will be outfitted in a complete new set of "cowboy clothes," just
in time to be introduced to his own ranch horse. He will spend the next few days getting
the feel of the saddle, eating cowboy grub around a campfire, attending a county fair,
riding in a Labor Day parade--and just enjoying cowboy life under that big Montana sky.
What makes Aarons dream even more special is that it marks the 50,000th time the
Make-A-Wish foundation of America has helped grant the wish of a child with a serious
"Having Aaron selected as the 50,000th wish child is incredible," says Judith, a
single mother currently earning her Masters Degree in early childhood education.
"It makes this experience all the more significant." And since Judith is usually
the one who ends up being Aarons "horse," shes even more excited.
Founded in 1980, Make-A-Wish was inspired by the love that friends and relatives had for a
7-year old boy named Chris. Chris was dying of leukemia but dreamed of becoming a police
officer for a day. With the help of some Arizona Department of Public Safety officers,
Chris wish was granted. The officers swore him in as an honorary DPS
officercomplete with custom-made uniform, helmet, and the personal badge of the DPS
commandant. Then, zipping around on his own, junior-sized police motorcycle, Chris even
qualified for his Highway Patrol wings.
Chris died four days after his wish was granted. But his legacy has lived on in the 50,000
wishes that have come since. And it will continue to live on in countless dreams to come.
With 82 chapters nationwide, Make-A-Wish is dedicated to its mission of granting wishes to
children under 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. A volunteer-based organization,
Make-A-Wish granted 6,490 wishes in 1996 alone.
Fifty-thousand wishes. 50,000 dreams come true. "We feel thats an incredible
achievement for an organization thats only 17-years old," says Herb Paine,
President and CEO of Make-A-Wish. "This milestone is one of many important
accomplishments propelling us into the 21st century, and paves the way for our 20th
anniversary celebration coming up in the year 2000."
In the meantime, a little boy named Aaron will live out a dream not all that different
from that of Chris, the first Make-A-Wish child. "Its a wish born of a desire
to be somethingor someonespecial," says Paine. "The kind of wish
that leads us to remember our own childhood dreams. It helps us remember the milestones
that have brought us to where we are today not only at Make-A-Wish, but in our own
Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America · 100 W.
Clarendon, Suite 2200 · Phoenix, AZ 85013-3518