What is a wish?
A “wish” is a child’s personal, heartfelt answer to the question: “If you could go anywhere, meet anyone, have or experience anything, what would you choose? What would you do?” Wishes are wonderful experiences given to critically ill children. Not only is the wish a magical interlude in a terrible and frightening time, but it is also a factor in increasing a child’s sense of empowerment. Children are energized by a wish … by imagining it, describing it, planning and anticipating it. Families tell us a wish can encourage a child to see and fight for a brighter future against tremendous odds.
How old must a child be to have a wish granted?
To be eligible for a wish, a child must be at least 2.5 and not more than 17 years of age at the time of referral.
What children are eligible?
Children are eligible if they have been diagnosed with an illness that is malignant, progressive or degenerative and that puts the child’s life in jeopardy, as determined by the child’s own physician. More detailed guidelines on eligibility are provided to medical professionals on request. Make-A-Wish® grants wishes regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status. No eligible Kansas child has ever been denied a wish or placed on a waiting list.
Are there any restrictions on wishes?
Make-A-Wish® tries to ensure that a wish is age appropriate and the child’s own heartfelt desire, expressed in his or her own words. We discourage wishes that appear to be initiated by a need of the family or a need of medical treatment. Serious safety concerns may also prevent us from granting certain wishes.
Is the whole family included in a wish?
Make-A-Wish® is unique in that a child’s parents and unmarried siblings living in the home who are under 19 years of age take part in the wish. They have all shared in the grief of the illness and should share in the joy and memories of the wish experience.
Is a child who has already received a wish from another wish-granting organization eligible to receive a wish from the Make-A-Wish® Kansas?
No, a child who has received a wish from another organization is not eligible for a wish from the Make-A-Wish®.
Does the family’s financial status matter?
No, economic background does not affect whether a child is eligible for a wish.
What if a family does not want publicity?
We respect and protect a child’s and family’s right to privacy. Publicity will never be sought without permission, and a family may decline publicity at any time.
Won’t accepting a wish mean we have given up hope for our child’s recovery?
We have frequently been described in the media or by word of mouth as granting wishes for children with “terminal” illnesses. It is much more correct to say that we grant wishes to children with “life-threatening” illnesses. Many people believe (incorrectly) that we grant wishes only to children who are dying, when in fact, we see the process of making a wish as life-affirming and full of hope. Families tell us that a wish can encourage a child to imagine a positive future when courage and hope are flagging. Our wish children who are now adults would attest to this!
Will the privacy of our family life be threatened by the media coverage?
The Make-A-Wish® Kansas always requests permission from a family before seeking any publicity. A family has the right to deny publicity at any time. We will protect your family’s and your child’s right to privacy always.
Are some families reluctant to accept a wish because it feels like taking charity?
There are several reasons why a family might hesitate to call us. A family might feel, for example, that they could grant a wish for their child themselves. We have found, however, that a family simply does not plan a fantasy vacation or event when challenged by life-threatening illness with its intense and disruptive treatment schedules and extreme stresses. Parents cannot find the psychological resources to carry out complex plans when day-to-day life requires so much from them.
A wish, moreover, often requires more than money for its implementation. A desire to meet a personal hero, or receive a blessing from John Paul II, or design an action figure for Mattel may be something that parents alone cannot facilitate.
Nor will a family spend money on a child’s “wish” if that family is raising money for a transplant or struggling with the crushing burden of medical bills–even if the parents have jobs and insurance. A family need not be in poverty or on welfare to qualify for Make-A-Wish® services. It is the medical condition of their child which qualifies that child, and the child’s need to experience renewed hope, strength, and joy.
We seek to bring magic to a child’s life at a time when the emotional stress of a serious illness is taking its toll. Wishes are magical things. When a child’s wish is fulfilled, it says, “it’s good to dream, it’s good to hope.” In therapy groups for children with life-threatening conditions, children often talk about their wishes and encourage newly diagnosed peers to think about what they might wish for. The wish-talk itself is positive and optimistic. Even parents who initially resisted calling Make-A-Wish® later decide to let their own child be a part of this magical process.
We can afford to pay for a wish ourselves. If we accept this wish, will this be unfair to other, less fortunate, families?
All medically qualified children are eligible for a wish, regardless of family income. The illness is blind to such things, and so are we. Hope, strength and joy are necessary for every child struggling with serious illness. We have never had to turn a wish down because of a lack of funds, and take pride in fulfilling a wish for every Utah child, regardless of race, creed, or economic status.