Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina grants hundreds of wishes each year
Posted January 17
Updated January 19
Since its founding in 1986, the Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina chapter has granted more than 3,300 wishes to children ages 2 ½ to 18.
The local branch serves 49 North Carolina counties, stretching from Alamance and Orange counties to the coast.
The chapter will grant seven-year-old Mac Hogstrom’s wish to ride in a helicopter when he flies in WRAL’s Sky 5 on Monday Jan. 23.
His parents, Matt and Belinda Hogstrom, said they are excited for a day that makes him feel special after all the medications and procedures he’s been through following his liver transplant as a baby.
“We’re thankful for Make-A-Wish, that they’re able to give him something positive in his life,” Matt Hogstrom said. “Make-A-Wish is able to give him something special and give him a dream that he had.”
On average, the chapter grants around 200 wishes to local children each year and is often working on the next year’s wish plans too.
To qualify for a wish, a local child must have a diagnosed illness that is considered to be life-threatening by their doctor. A life-threatening illness is not necessarily a terminal illness.
Children can be referred to Make-A-Wish by a medical provider or a family member. Older children can also apply to Make-A-Wish. Wishes are considered on a case-by-case basis.
There are four kinds of wishes children can select from: to be, to meet, to have and to go.
A young child may wish ‘to be a firefighter for a day’ while a teenager might wish ‘to go to Hawaii with their family.’
Jerry Peters, a spokesperson for Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina, said it takes six to 18 months from the time the child is referred to the time the wish is granted.
“Some families choose to have wishes fall before a major treatment or surgery, or they may want to do it after, or they may want to do it during the holidays because more family can participate,” Peters said. “Even though we grant around 200 wishes a year, we may have another 100 wishes in the system at various stages in the process.
Peters said often the most costly wishes fall in the ‘to meet’ and ‘to go’ categories for children who wish to meet a celebrity in a specific location or visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. He said the need for financial support and donations is greater than ever.
Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina funds wishes entirely through private donations from individuals, companies, foundations and schools and does not receive government funds or grants.
While Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina is a chapter of the larger national Make-A-Wish organization, all donations to the chapter are put toward local children’s wishes.
Make-A-Wish even offers a program so that people can directly donate unused airline miles to help fund wishes involving travel.
With only 14 full-time staff members based at their office in Morrisville, the organization relies on volunteers located throughout the 49 counties, Peters said.
Make-A-Wish describes its mission as helping kids feel stronger, more courageous and more determined to overcome their illnesses. A combined 89 percent of doctors, nurses and health professionals surveyed say they believe a wish experience can influence wish kids' physical health.
Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina Resources