"I met an incredible wish kid who dressed up like a doctor,” said volunteer wish granter and event emcee Kaitlyn Bolduc. “He told me that if he could dress up like every doctor who helped him, he would, because they are all his heroes. That's a moment I'll never forget.”
It’s moments like this that helped bring together more than 1,400 people to Washington Park to make wishes come true for local children who are battling a life-threatening medical condition. These heroes joined forces to raise more than $133,000 on behalf of Make-A-Wish® Oregon.
“I like that there are people that devote their time so kids can experience joy through a wish,” said 13-year-old Ella, whose wish to go on a cruise came true in 2014. She and her friends volunteered at the event by serving as course directors. “It was really cool seeing everyone walk by and being pumped.”
Ella was one 65 wish kids who signed up to participate in Walk For Wishes. They were honored with a special ceremony where they each received a Wish Hero Medal. Cyndy LeDoux’s daughter Blue had her wish to be in a music video granted in 2014. “It just brightens my heart to see her amazing strength honored,” said LeDoux. “All of those wish kids are just an inspiration and their stories should all be heard.”
For many, seeing the wish kids on stage during the opening ceremony and hearing about their wishes was the highlight of the morning. Maegan Vidal, the physician outreach liaison for Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, said she was particularly proud to be able to wear her purple cape and star-studded sunglasses to help celebrate the wish heroes who fight every day to defeat the biggest villain of all – a life-threatening medical condition. Her team, Randall Children’s Superheroes, was 78 members strong and raised $2,610 to support local wish kids. “I truly believe in the healing power wishes have on children and their families,” said Vidal. “Children are amazingly resilient at fighting terrible conditions, but wishes give them hope, adventure and memories that take them away from their illness and into an experience they have always wanted.”
Some of the heroes at the event didn’t have capes. Instead, they wore a simple bright red t-shirt with the Walk For Wishes logo. They were the more than 100 volunteers who helped make the event possible – from arranging vendors and sorting prizes to being crossing guards and staffing check-in. “Thank you to all the volunteers who not only supported Walk For Wishes with their time and dedication, but supported our wish families by walking with them,” said Make-A-Wish Oregon volunteer manager, Darcie LaMotte-Waage.
Of course, a family-friendly walk wouldn’t be complete without face painting, ice cream, snacks and games. "Seeing everyone come together to support local kids in our community was a special feeling,” said Bolduc. “It’s a powerful moment to be a part of."
Enjoy the following video from the 2016 Walk For Wishes.
Photos by: Jennifer Faith Photography and Katie Plummer Photography
Video by: Meredith Kuhl
Edited by: Phil Merrifield