DuBOIS — Making dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses has become a tradition in the DuBois area for the last 24 years and this year is no different.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Light Up A Child’s Life campaign kicks off Monday and will continue through Friday, according to Lindsey Herzing, regional manager of Make-A-Wish based in Punxsutawney.
It is a week when local residents raise money to bring the magic of a wish to children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
Throughout the week, stories are told through radio station Sunny 106 in DuBois about children’s dreams coming true through Make-A-Wish, an organization that fulfills wishes for children ages 2 1/2 to 18. Only those children who have life-threatening illnesses documented by their physician are eligible to be referred.
“This year marks 24 fabulous years of giving from such a generous community,” Herzing said. “We could not make the magic and memories for our wish children without the support of this campaign each year. A special thanks to Jay Philippone, owner of Priority Communications and Sunny 106, and Lori Lewis, station manager, for hosting us each year. Our hearts are full from past support and generosity of our donors, the individuals, businesses and, of course, the area schools who support us each year.”
Herzing said Make-A-Wish has done so many wonderful wishes this year. A total of 58 wishes were granted in the 11-county region — including, Clearfield, Jefferson and Elk counties — served by the Punxsutawney office this last fiscal year which ended in August.
“We hope to grant just as many or more this fiscal year,” Herzing said. “We had a child attend a live taping of Dancing with the Stars, another child met Kobe Bryant, a boy wished for a man cave, another boy wanted a game room. Those were some of the more unusual wishes. Disney is always the most requested wish.”
Other wishes included a cruise, musical instruments, a horse, a trip to the beach, a hot tub, Paris and Hawaii trips, shopping sprees and swing sets, she said.
Make-A-Wish could not make these amazing wishes possible without the generous donations that come in throughout the year and especially during the Light Up a Child’s Life campaign, Herzing said.
Make-A-Wish is a wish-granting organization that raises money, not a fundraising organization that grants wishes.
Make-A-Wish never sets a goal for the campaign. The “goal” has always been to have enough money to fulfill every wish the organization needs to fill. Make-A-Wish just never wants to turn down a child.
Last year, more than $103,000 was raised during the DuBois campaign, Herzing said.
Anyone can recommend a child, from friends and family members to church members, nurses, doctors or volunteers.
When a child is referred, Make-A-Wish makes sure the family is aware the child has been referred and approves.
Then the agency works with doctors to have a form filled out confirming the child has a life-threatening medical condition.
A team of volunteers then sets up to go to the home and find out what the child dreams of.
The average cost for a wish is $3,900. The average was $3,400 when wishes began being granted in 1980, but costs have risen.
The Light Up A Child’s Life campaign is the only internal campaign the organization does. Sometimes other organizations raise money for Make-A-Wish or students do senior projects that benefit the agency.
The campaign will run through Friday with live interviews each day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with wish families and donors. Bids are taken on auction items all week long with the auction from 3-4 p.m. Friday.
Herzing noted that the wooden stars that used to be displayed on Liberty Boulevard in DuBois are now in a new home. They can now be seen from The Commons parking lot in Sandy Township looking down on Carpet Shack, next to Rosie’s Book Shop.
“They are hung from a large tree,” said Herzing, who expressed appreciation to the Sandy Township Public Works department, including Matt Cook, Nate Alvetro and Danny Gilbert, for hanging them.
Those wishing to make a donation may call 372-1065 throughout the week.