In honor of our 35th Anniversary in 2019, we will be focusing on some of the more than 8,600 wishes we have granted in our history. Here is an update on a wish we granted back in 2007.
Liz’s wish to help and teach children in Africa not only provided her and her family a vital “breath of fresh air” and time to experience the world, it also led Liz—now a healthy adult—down her current career path.
“I am now working full time as a middle and high school history teacher because of that much needed spark Make-A-Wish gave me to push me out of the child cancer patient mindset,” says Liz.
After a year of chemotherapy, radiation, and overcoming both physical and emotional challenges, Liz met with her volunteer wish granters to solidify her wish to volunteer in Africa. Liz chose to use her wish to experience the world but also to give back by volunteering in a health clinic and school. “Make-A-Wish helped me realize there are many children in the world experiencing similar diseases without the type of care we are fortunate enough to receive here,” recalls Liz.
Liz and her family stayed in a game preserve near Johannesburg, South Africa, where they were taken on safari tours every morning and night. When not volunteering, Liz was able to see lions, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, and crocodiles, truly immersing herself in the culture and nature of Africa. The family even received an exciting visit from wild hippos at their resort on the last night of their trip!
Aside from the unique opportunity she had to teach and volunteer with her brother at an impoverished rural school and health clinic, Liz’s wish allowed her to finally reconnect with her family outside of her treatment. “I finally felt free to just be a carefree kid enjoying life with her mother, father, and younger brother,” she says. ““It was an amazing and beautiful time bonding with my family about something other than medication times, hospitalizations, and infections.”
Twelve years later, Liz looks back on her wish as the “long-awaited breath of fresh air” that she and her family needed during her recovery process. “Wishes are vital to the emotional well-being of each individual child,” says Liz. “Make-A-Wish is not just an organization, it is a gem, a dream, a much needed vacation from the hospital, a savior of the family unit, a trip to childhood normalcy, a unifying force, and most importantly, an imperative part of a human race who deeply cares about the current and future lives of children.”
She is also passing her wisdom on in the classroom. “I teach the kids in my class to respect their minds and bodies, to be thankful for their health, and to understand how other children around the world live,” she says.