Twelve-year-old Katie’s wish story began at Shriner’s Hospital for Children where she met Erin Gerber, a social worker who referred her to Make-A-Wish Oregon, knowing that a wish experience would change her life. She was right. Katie’s mom, Heather, said Katie’s wish to go to Hawaii allowed Katie to experience things that were outside her comfort zone – things like ziplining and parasailing.
More importantly, Erin was always there for Katie and helped her get through some of the toughest days. “Whenever I’m nervous, you cheer me up,” said Katie in a note to Erin. “You brighten so many hard days for people.”
Because of Erin’s commitment to transforming the lives of local kids, Make-A-Wish Oregon presented Erin with the 2016 Medical Partner Achievement Award. In the two years that Erin has been referring kids to Make-A-Wish Oregon, she has more than doubled the number of Shriner’s kids who have received wishes – bringing hope and joy to more local children than ever through the power of a wish®.
“Make-A-Wish is a gift not only to the kids, but to medical professionals as well,” said Erin, MSW, Shriner’s Hospital for Children. “It brings joy to really hard situations and helps lighten the heavy load that so many of us carry.”
Our volunteers help carry some of that load for wish families – and are often the key characters in the next chapter of a wish story. Among our many outstanding volunteers is Chris Ackman. Though she’s only been an active volunteer for two years, Chris has already granted 15 wishes and has made a tremendous impact on children like 4-year-old Camden.
In addition to making his wish extra special, Chris and her fellow wish granters offered Camden some very wise advice. When they first met Camden, they asked him what he would wish to have, who he would wish to meet and where he would wish to go. According to his mom, Camden replied: “a green rubber ducky, my mom and the park.”
After a chat with Chris and a quick tour of his room, Camden, in the end, decided to think slightly bigger and wished to go to Walt Disney World® Resort. Camden and his family celebrated his fourth birthday at the Magic Kingdom, and it was truly magical. As he and his family watched the famous electric parade and fireworks, his mom said she will never forget Camden’s awe as he exclaimed, “This is all for me! This is for my wish birthday.”
In return for his big “birthday gift,” Camden was on hand to present the 2016 Make-A-Wish Oregon Volunteer Achievement Award to his wish granter, Chris, for her compassion, care and dedication to making dreams come true.
“I'm incredibly humbled by this recognition,” said Chris. “The greatest part of being a wish granter is meeting the families. Being a part of something that brings joy to their lives during a very difficult time is so rewarding. The cherry on top was having Camden present me with the award!”
Every once in a while, we come across someone who has made an impact on many different levels. As a volunteer, she served on the Walk For Wishes® committee and brought enthusiasm and fresh ideas to the team. As a fundraiser, she asked her employer to sponsor the event, formed a walk team and recruited more than 75 team members. As a friend, she works relentlessly to advocate for local wish kids. She is the tie that binds. She is Maegan Vidal, physician outreach liaison at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel.
In presenting her with the 2016 Medical Partner Achievement Award, Make-A-Wish Oregon CEO Laila Cook noted Maegan’s ability to connect and engage the staff, doctors and patients with the Make-A-Wish mission. “She is a true ambassador for Make-A-Wish and we are honored to have her involved.”
“Advocating for Make-A-Wish Oregon at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel is simple,” said Maegan. “Wishes bring joy, magic and forever memories to our families.”
Every wish child has a story. Supporters like Erin Gerber, Chris Ackman and Maegan Vidal have important roles because a wish has the power to positively impact the story for the child, the family and the community.