In January 1999, a group of amazing women I had never met before, sat with me in the conference room of the radio station and asked for my help. They wanted to raise money for a wish granting organization that I only knew a little about; The Make A Wish Foundation. They were newly trained volunteers and were eager to raise money to fund their first wish which at the time averaged around $3500.
I had no idea what that meeting would truly change my life. Our first radiothon raised over $22,000. Still even after that first fundraiser, I was scared to get involved in any other capacity than as a fundraiser. It was a comfortable place for me, I was a professional communicator, I could engage people. I was pursuasive and I could tell the story, but actually meeting the kids…. Well… I was just plain scared. I was afraid I would cry when I met the kids. I just knew I would be a blubbery fool and I wouldn’t be able to get the job done. I didn’t want to add to the heartache that these families were dealing with, with a sick child. I felt guilty because I had two healthy babies. Flash forward a few months later, when I got the call that they needed someone to meet with a child in Paragould.
A little boy named Hunter. At first I was like ” No” ” I’ve told you before, I can’t do it. I’ll cry.” Patricia Brown the CEO of Make A Wish at the time said ” Christie, if you don’t, who will? ” So I said yes. From that very first wish interview I was hooked. I was captivated by this little boy who had endured so much. A little boy who wanted more than anything to go to Disneyworld.
After that first wish, I was determined that part of my life’s mission would be to serve these children through the Make A Wish Foundation. I made a commitment to raise money, to be the voice of the kids. I vowed to speak at every Civic Organization that would let me and to motivate school children to raise money to grant wishes to their fellow students. I vowed to help grow the number of volunteers, and to truly share the power of a wish with anyone who’d listen.
I can hardly believe how quickly the years have passed. We are just three weeks away from our 16th event. I never dreamed that it would be as successful as it is today. I had hoped it in secret, but honestly never dreamed that God would give me the opportunity to play a significant role in the lives of so many children and their families.
I believed that surely there was someone better, more qualified to be that person. It’s taken me a lot of years to really grasp it all. To trust myself and believe in me and the gifts that God has given me. So many wonderful people have come into my life through Make A Wish. Wish kids and their families, so many wonderful volunteers who are more like family than friends, great relationships that just keep getting stronger. That first meeting in 1999 introduced me to my very best friend Danna Reece Johnson
and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Make A Wish is part of me, it’s part of this great community in Northeast Arkansas, and as we gear up for our 16th Have A Heart Wish A Thon, when you see those dedicated volunteers bundled up in frigid temperatures holding out buckets and you hear those sweet Wish Kids on the radio asking you to give, I ask you… like Patricia Brown asked me all those years ago… ” If you don’t … who will? “
I hope you will!
Thank you for blessing me all these years!