Have you ever wanted to make someone’s wish come true?
South Carolina women have the opportunity to do just that by signing up to be members of the W.I.S.H. Society.
W.I.S.H. stands for Women Inspiring Strength and Hope, and that’s exactly what these women do, explained Crystal Alifanow, director of communications at Make-A-Wish® South Carolina.
“Each of these ladies signs up to fundraise the amount of a wish for a child, which is around $7,500,” she said.
What can be more inspiring than helping to grant a wish for a child?
One of the misconceptions of Make-A-Wish is that a child has to have a terminal illness.
“Many of our wish kids go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives,” Alifanow said. “I truly believe that [their granted] wishes are part of that process.”
Another misconception about Make-A-Wish South Carolina, Alifanow said, is that the organization has a big pool of funds from which to draw. While Make-A-Wish is a national organization, each chapter is its own 501c3, and funds raised in South Carolina stay in the Palmetto State.
“We’re very grassroots,” Alifanow said. “We are funded by individual donations and corporate sponsorships. Right now, we have more than 500 wishes waiting to be granted because of COVID delays. Our pipeline of children is extensive. The only thing holding us back from granting a wish is funding.”
The goal is to grant at least 185 wishes to critically ill children in South Carolina this year. No child’s wish is turned down. If a wish can be granted, it is.
“Pre-COVID, we were granting 209 wishes a year, so we’re really excited that, despite COVID, we’ve been able to maintain a really high number of wishes granted,” Alifanow said.
When a child is dealing with a serious illness, that wish can be a light to look forward to while enduring painful operations or treatments. The sooner that wish can be granted, the better.
With nearly two years’ worth of children waiting for their wishes to come true, donations are more important than ever.
“These kids are feeling more isolated than ever,” said Alifanow. “They are medically fragile, and quarantine was even tougher on them than everybody else. They definitely need the joy and the hope from a wish to have something to look forward to.”
There are other benefits to becoming a member of the W.I.S.H. Society. In addition to bringing joy to a child battling a serious illness, it’s also a networking group for women, with group socials and an awards luncheon in January, where members are recognized for their achievements, and one standout woman is named W.I.S.H. Society Woman of the Year.
Make-A-Wish South Carolina is seeking 10 women in the Lowcountry and 10 in the Upstate to take on the incredibly rewarding philanthropic responsibility of helping to bring light to a child’s life.
Once you hear the children’s wishes, you will know how deserving they are. The kids are an inspiration themselves, not just for their courage in facing their illness but for some of the wishes they request.
Some wish for a magical trip to Walt Disney World, a tropical vacation or a trip to Florida or Hilton Head Island, and who wouldn’t want to grant them that? But you might be surprised – and it might bring tears to your eyes – to hear some of the children’s simpler wishes.
Anne Clair, a 14-year-old battling cancer, wished for a party for her medical staff. Alexander, 12, who is fighting leukemia, wished for a computer. Sirr, 18, who has a nervous system disorder, wished for an adaptive bike. Several wished for a bedroom makeover. Charles, 14, battling lymphoma, wished for a Star Wars experience. And 12-year-old Ethan, who has a nervous system disorder, wished for a camper so he could experience his favorite activity with his family.
When their wishes are granted, their joy and excitement can’t be contained, as evidenced by the giant smiles on their faces – like Deisy, who looks like a princess in her cobalt sequined ball gown and crystal-studded tiara.
Or 5-year-old Bennett, who has a heart disorder, in his custom-made police uniform, proudly bringing in a criminal he just caught. Or Adrian, 14, grinning widely as he stood on the field getting ready to play the trumpet with the University of Michigan marching band, which was his wish. There was 18-year-old Ethan, who was born with congenital anomalies, holding the viola he wished for.
“These kids are amazing,” said Alifanow.
On May 14, you can hear from some of the children themselves about how having their wish granted impacted their life during Wish Night, the Make-A-Wish inaugural gala, which will be held at the Charleston Gaillard Center.
“We’ll have a silent auction, a live auction, a gourmet dinner and a beautiful program with four spectacular Wish kids,” Alifanow said. “We’re currently looking for sponsors and table sponsors.”
Individuals, businesses and corporations who want to spark joy in a child’s life and help that child cope with the stress of fighting a critical illness can sponsor a table, donate an auction item or simply donate. To do so, contact Shannon Rice at [email protected] or visit www.wish.org/sc.
By Christine Steele