The Make-A-Wish Foundation of America’s Central and Western N.C. chapter, based in Charlotte, will host Charlotte’s fifth Walk for Wishes noncompetitive 5K the morning of Nov. 9 at the zMax Dragway in Concord.Walkers will have the opportunity to walk on the dragway while raising awareness and funds to help grant the wishes of local children suffering from life-threatening conditions.The walk was held at zMax last year as well. Stephanie Leeper, the chapter’s marketing and communications manager, said partnering with zMax for the event started “because of the amount of support we have in the racing community.”When the chapter started in 1985, the first wish granted was for a child who wanted to meet NASCAR driver Richard Petty. Since then, the chapter has granted over 3,000 wishes ranging from trips to Disney World to owning a puppy. One local little girl was even granted her wish to travel to the Vatican to meet the pope.Make-A-Wish of Central and Western N.C. serves 51 counties, an area where about 400 children per year are diagnosed with qualifying conditions, according to Leeper. The chapter has plans to serve about 221 children from September 2013 through August 2014.Between September 2012 and August 2013, the nonprofit was able to grant 238 wishes.The average cost of granting a wish is $6,000. The chapter receives no federal funding and relies on donors, corporations, and other organizations. Despite this, the chapter has managed to never turn an eligible wish down.“We’ve never turned down a wish, but some of the higher cost wishes may require a little extra time to find the funding,” said Leeper. “They are constantly juggling the number of wishes with the funding available. We work diligently to engage the community in our mission from a funding, in-kind and awareness perspective.”“In-kind” donations are nonmonetary ways of helping grant wishes, such as a photographer donating his or her skill, or an audio-video company letting the organization use speakers for an event for free. Some of the more in-demand nonmonetary donations include frequent flier miles, hotel loyalty points, computers, TVs and puppies.In-kind donations are “as good as a cash donation if it is directly related to a wish,” said Leeper. The Walk for Wishes will also include a DJ, a pirate making balloon-animals, face painting, a bounce house, sports mascots, vendors, and food and drinks. Participants will also get the opportunity to see a child at the event surprised with the news that his or her wish will be granted.When children receive this news, Leeper said, “Some have tears of joy, some scream in excitement; others are so simply overcome, they are rendered speechless. They are always beyond thrilled and frankly it’s a magical experience. We’ve asked them to dream big, and being able to make those dreams come true is really the experience of a lifetime.”The news that a child’s wish will be granted is often delivered by volunteers called Wish Granters. Leeper recalls attending a Wish Reveal Party in early October where a little boy with cancer was told by his Wish Granter that he was going to Disney World. The volunteer also arranged for a local fire station to bring a firetruck to the party and let the boy test the equipment, because the boy wants to be a firefighter.Part of the “magic” of granting wishes is that it encourages the children and their families. The Make-A-Wish website says a granted wish can be a “game changer” in giving a child hope and the courage they need to endure medical treatments. The site says 89 percent of health professionals surveyed believe a granted wish can influence a child’s physical health.Gold-level corporate sponsors for Charlotte’s Walk for Wishes include AAA, Brooks Equipment, and Smucker’s.There will also be Walk for Wish events in Asheville on Nov. 2 and Winston-Salem on Nov. 16.
Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Walk for Wishes to help grant 221 this year
Learn more: To participate in the Walk for Wishes, or for information on volunteering or donating to Make-A-Wish of Central and Western N.C., visit nc.wish.org.
Marjorie Dana is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marjorie? Email her at email@example.com.
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