There were food, drinks, dancing and a band, but the true stars on this evening were the wish kids. They shone brightly, stole the stage and stole the hearts of many. "It's awesome,” said Kathleen, one of the 600 people who attended Wish Ball. “There are so many wish kids here and that makes it seem so much more real.”
REAL that these kids are battling life-threatening illnesses. REAL that their wish experience made a difference in their lives. REAL that local donors dug deep into their wallets and their hearts to help make wishes come true.
Wish Ball attendees got to meet more than 20 local wish kids whose wishes came true because of the generosity of Make-A-Wish supporters. They mingled with the crowd and shared their unique stories. Four-year-old Serenity, who wished to go to Hawaii, even gave hugs to anyone who wanted one.
“It was powerful, impactful and passionate,” said Nina, who saw the video of Benny, a once-active 7-year-old whose fight with Down syndrome and leukemia nearly took away everything, including his confidence.
After Benny’s video, his big brother, Nick, got on stage and, with tears in his eyes, thanked everyone at Wish Ball. “Our family has been through so much and this wish really turned our story around. The best thing about Benny’s wish [to go to a dude ranch] for our family was seeing him completely independent. It gave us something unexpected: hope.”
Earlier in the evening, at the VIP fundraising dinner, wish kid Payton echoed a similar sentiment. “The thought of going to Hawaii for my wish kept me strong when being strong was the last thing I wanted to be. Treatment was never fun... my wish gave me something else to focus on other than cancer. And that dream of what was to come kept me fighting.”
Payton’s wish to go to Hawaii, Benny’s wish to go to a dude ranch and the wishes of hundreds of other local kids were made possible by the generosity of many, including Wish Ball presenting sponsors Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys and U.S. Bank. Together, with the support of those who attended Wish Ball, the event raised more than $600,000.
In fiscal year 2015, donors and volunteers helped grant a record-breaking 211 wishes. In fiscal year 2016, Make-A-Wish Oregon hopes to make the wishes of 225 local kids come true.