It was October 2015 when I convinced my co-worker to nominate her son for Make-A-Wish. His life threatening disease and constant hospital stays made him a deserving candidate. I emailed her the application and joyfully faxed it for her. I anxiously awaited with her for the wish to be picked up.
Flash forward to March 2016 when Noah's granted wish took him to North Carolina to meet Cam Newton and he filmed a promotional video for Lokia's new MAW bracelet. I smiled and teared for four days at every picture and video I received. My heart swelled. It made long work days tolerable.
I saw a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning about a school that partnered with MAW. It didn't take much to convince my co-worker that we should present to our school principal to be a Kids For Wish Kids school and that we should be wish granters ourselves. It didn't take much effort to convince the principal and staff to adopt this venture as a school wide service learning experience. The idea of kids actually seeing with their own eyes what their service efforts could accomplish...we knew would a fantastic lesson in empathy and goal setting. So often service learning doesn't present itself with face value. This lesson would do just that! And so the venture began.
Starting in September the school began to raise money. The kids and their teachers sold MAW stars, custom bracelets, hot cocoa...they had penny wars and a dinner night at Culver's, where the students assisted in serving meal orders. Every fundraiser brought thrill to the kids as they strived for a goal. Then at the end of the rainbow they struck gold--$5000 was raised! The cost of the wish.
This past Friday the school revealed the wish. It was spectacular! My co-worker and I worked hard decorating the night before and early in the morning on Friday. We hung hundreds of stars from the hallway ceiling. We rolled out a red carpet with a welcome tunnel of cheerleaders. We set a throne, adorned with balloons, between the school band and the school choir. The band played a Disney medley, as a timid 7 year old was escorted by student ambassadors into the gym to his throne; by the cheering of 800 people. He was presented a gift basket of Disney treasures and serenaded by the choir singing Cinderella's: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.
I kept my wish granter's tears in check. Then his mother asked to speak. She spoke of her gratefulness and how unreal the fanfare the school was showing to her son. Then she said the thing that drew a lump to my throat as I fought to hold back tears. She spoke of the years of her son's struggles and the fight against cancer he had to endure. She told the students and staff how this week he looked at her and her husband and said that getting to go to Disney was so great it made "having cancer medium." Spoken in such simple terms by a 7 year old, yet so profound. There it was. The lesson learned from the service. The weight of the wish and the magic of healing the heart.
As this timid 7 year old was leaving the gym he stopped in front of the band to gaze. The director took his little hand and guided it in the necessary direction of each beat. There he was conducting the band as they played the Mickey Mouse song. Every turn this little guy took he was a star. Students asking for pictures with him and patting his back. He was experiencing his 60 minutes of fame.
There's something that sticks in the heart when you witness a wish granted. That something has fueled the school to work at granting another wish.
If you keep on believing the dream that you wish will come true.