Make-A-Wish Grants CNY Wishes, Enriches Lives


Contributed by: ELENA KILGORE
The CNY Chapter of Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases in 15 counties across Central New York and the community is a big part of the process.

The CNY Chapter of Make-A-Wish grants between 75-100 wishes each year, with a lot of help from community members.

Make-A-WishDiane Kuppermann, CEO and president of the CNY Chapter of Make-A-Wish works with a close team of seven full-time employees, one part-time and interns in the Make-A-Wish office.

“The mission is so pure and so simple,” Kuppermann said. “We do one thing, we grant wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions.”

Wishes are broken down into five categories: I wish to be, I wish to go, I wish to have, I wish to meet and most recently, I wish to give.

The 62 independent chapters of Make-A-Wish across the United States and Canada work closely together to grant the wishes of children, between the ages of two and a half and 17 years old.

Children can be referred to Make-A-Wish by themselves, a friend/family member or a doctor.

Children who meet the age requirements do not need to be terminally ill, but they must have a life-threatening disease.

A family’s financial capabilities are not considered by Make-A-Wish.

The CNY chapter of Make-A-Wish is required to raise $2 million a year for the foundation.

This can be a challenge for such a small team.

“We see challenges as opportunities at Make-a-Wish,” Kuppermann said.

Christine Corbett, the CNY Make-A-Wish director of development, spoke about this challenge in a recent interview.

“We don’t receive any state or federal funding,” she said.

Make-A-Wish depends on its board members and volunteers to help raise this money.

Board members are encouraged and expected to make personal donations as well as network among their peers to bring in more donations.

Board members are chosen based on a variety of qualifications.

Kuppermann explained that she works to create a diverse board.

Members are chosen to represent different counties across the 15 that the CNY chapter serves.

Board members are selected from all different professions including medical, legal, accounting and more.

“It’s just a great organization,” Guy Scott, a former board member of the CNY chapter, said in a recent interview. “Very well run, very well thought of.”

It has been proven that wishes help children throughout their treatment.

Studies have found that patients are more likely to respond positively to treatment when their wish is granted.

“It’s important that they have this opportunity to get away,” Scott said. “It makes a difference to them.”

Volunteers work tirelessly to help the foundation.

There are endless ways to help out the Make-A-Wish foundation by volunteering.

“Every single day we see the good in people,” Kuppermann said. “People will move mountains to help us make wishes come true.”

“I work with Make-A-Wish because it gives me the opportunity to work with an organization that makes such an impact in the lives of children with life threatening conditions,” said Rachelle Luckette, a current wish granter. “I have volunteered with other organizations, but this by far is the most rewarding. As a wish granter I am able to take a wish from start to finish. I love meeting the children and families. I have not had a wish as of yet where the child had the same illness as another. It is inspiring to see the families rally around the child, and to see the delight in all of them when the wish becomes a reality.”

Volunteers have the opportunity to be wish granters.

These are the people that meet with the children and their families to determine what a child’s wish will be.

This normally takes two to six visits. Children and wish granters finalize two to three wishes during this time.

After these meetings, wish granters plan a wish announcement party where they tell the child which wish they will be granting.

“It is a humbling experience to be welcomed into another family’s home, one you have never met before, knowing how sick their child is and be greeted with smiles,” Scott said, who has also been a wish granter for 15 years. “The hope, strength and joy that I have seen from the wish kids and their loved ones is truly incredible. The dreams I have heard from an eight year old about what they will be when they are older or the gift the 16 year old wants to give to the world when she recovers is why I keep doing this. To see a single child light up a room with their wish and tell you what is in their heart, no holding back. How thankful I am that I could witness that.”

Volunteers also spend a great deal of time planning events to benefit Make-A-Wish.

In 2016, Binghamton University planned a “Walk/Run for Wishes” benefiting CNY’s Make-A-Wish chapter. This event alone raised more than $8,000.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently announced its annual partnership with Make-A-Wish in CNY.

Wishmakers on Campus is a student-run organization that supports CNY’s Make-a-Wish Chapter from 22 different colleges.

This club helps to plan and execute fundraisers for Make-A-Wish while also giving it some recognition across the region.

SUNY Oswego has a very active campus chapter. Last year, the school ran a Miss-a-Meal program where students could skip a meal on campus and the price they would have paid for the meal went to Make-A-Wish. This event raised more than $4,000.

Scott, who also is a professor at SUNY Oswego, had the opportunity to participate in the check ceremony following Miss-a-Meal.

Last October, SUNY Oswego’s service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, raised money for Make-A-Wish with its annual Slime Run. Students fund-raised before participating in a 5K run/walk where they were slimed at various stations. Prizes were awarded to the winners of the run.

“We started this event two years ago when one of my brothers in APO and I decided we wanted to have a large fundraiser for Central New York Make-A-Wish,” Heather Robinson, a member of the fraternity said. “We decided that a 5K would be the most profitable fundraiser to do on a college campus. Make-A-Wish is an organization that I really value because I believe their mission statement is amazing.”

This was not APO’s first event to benefit Make-A-Wish. In November 2012, the SUNY Oswego chapter hosted Make-A-Date, its date night to benefit the organization.

The fraternity raised nearly $900 from its themed basket auction during this event.

Make-A-Wish itself plans many events for wish kids and their families. The CNY chapter organizes multiple golf tournaments each year to benefit Make-A-Wish.

Ms. Orange is an annual event put on by the CNY Chapter where women involved with Make-A-Wish are invited to have dinner and participate in auctions with members of Syracuse University Men’s basketball team.

The Wish Ball is an annual celebration where wish kids and their families are invited to enjoy live entertainment, celebrity appearances, auctions, dinner and dancing.

This event also raises money for Make-A-Wish by charging for tickets and tables for the general public.

“We all work really hard,” Corbett said. “But we play really hard too.”