The lazy days of summer may have begun for some of us, but Make-A-Wish Arizona is gearing up for one of the busiest wish granting summers on record…and your frequent flier miles can help!
Nearly 100 Arizona children battling life-threatening medical conditions will have their one true wish granted before the new school year begins, and the majority of these wishes require air travel. Some of those trips include a wish to meet the Pope, a wish to meet President Barack Obama, and a wish to see the turtles in the Galapagos Islands.
Donating frequent flier miles through the foundation’s Wishes in Flightprogram is easy – and the miles never expire once they’ve been donated.
“We are asking travelers to donate airline miles which we will use to help grant wishes of children who need to travel to reach their wish destinations,” said Elizabeth Reich, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Arizona. “When you donate airline miles you free up other resources that can be used to grant wishes. An added benefit is that most airlines also waive baggage fees when miles are donated. Baggage fees add significant costs to wishes. ”
Many major airlines based in the United States allow members of their frequent flier programs to donate airline miles to Make-A-Wish Arizona If you have frequent flier miles with Delta, US Airways, Continental, or United, you hold the ticket to a child’s wishSM.
Every traveler can be part of a life-affirming wish. All it takes is a simple airline miles donation.
To donate frequent flier miles to Make-A-Wish Arizona, visit www.wishaz.org and click on Ways to Help or call 602-343-9437 to donate over the phone. If don’t have miles to donate but you’d still like to support the foundation, you can make a monetary donation by visiting www.wishaz.org
There was a time when Shelby might not have lived to see her 16th birthday, but after receiving a life-saving heart transplant Shelby is celebrating this milestone with a Sweet 16 party thanks to Make-A-Wish Arizona and the Arizona Biltmore Resort!
Shelby was only two months old when she was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. After two open heart surgeries doctors determined that a heart transplant was Shelby’s only hope for survival. Now on the road to recovery, Shelby’s wish for a Sweet 16 party will be granted on Friday night at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.
“The Biltmore has been a longtime supporter of Make-A-Wish Arizona, said Elizabeth Reich,” President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Arizona. “When they decided to help us grant this wish and arrange to have everything donated for the party we were thrilled. Having support from the community is essential for granting wishes. We are extremely grateful.”
A special thanks goes out to all the valley business who donated everything from food to décor and entertainment for Shelby’s wish.
What is something people don’t know about Make-A-Wish?
Most people don’t know that it was founded here in Arizona in 1980 after some DPS officers and a customs agent learned of a boy with leukemia whose one wish was to become a police officer. They decided to help make his dream happen. He got a uniform, was checked out on mini-motorcycle, and the experience was very meaningful to him. When he died, he was buried in the uniform and he was issued. After the officers saw the impact the wish had on the boy and his family, they said , ‘We should do this again,’ and it grew into what it is today. We have 62 chapters in the U.S. and we are in 35 countries worldwide. Make-A-Wish is Arizona’s gift to the world.
Video by Cory Bergquist
What has been your biggest challenge in this struggling economy?
We are 100 percent dependent on dollars from people and corporations to make our wishes come true and those dollars are fewer and farther between. People know that Make-A-Wish does great things, but sometimes they don’t see them as necessary things.
How do you show them that they are a necessity?
Fortunately, a 2010 study of more than 2,000 Make-A-Wish families and volunteers shows the impact of a wish beyond that moment — the impact on the family, the impact on the volunteers and the impact on that child through the rest of his or her life. Many of our Make-A-Wish children live to be adults. That wish experience has impact on their ability to recover from their illness. So as a result of the wish impact study, we can now say our wishes are not a ‘nice to have,’ they are a ‘need to have.’
What is your most rewarding moment at CEO of Make-A-Wish?
It’s always the most recent moment. There was a young lady who graduated early from high school and was No. 3 in her class. Originally, her wish was to go to Italy. But her wish changed. She said, ‘I want to focus on school. I want to focus on becoming a doctor.’ So her wish was for a laptop computer. Not only was her wish for a laptop granted, but she got an iPad, an iPod, and a desk to put the laptop on. She was so gracious and so thankful. It’s something that is going to enrich her life for years to come and it was her one true wish.
Are there common threads in the wishes?
Our wishes fall into four categories: I wish to be, I wish to go, I wish to have, or I wish to meet. But more and more, kids today are adding a fifth category: I wish to give. They use their wishes to give back. We are working with one girl whose wish is to have a national forum where she can talk about the importance of being a bone marrow donor. We are working with morning shows right now to arrange a platform for her so she can get her message out.
How do you make the wishes happen?
We have wonderful staff members called wish managers. They have to be part travel agent, part logistician, be multi-skilled, and have to work in concert with our volunteers. When you’re granting 251 wishes, like we did last year, you’re dealing with a lot of logistics and a lot of juggling. I like to say that we cry here every day. We cry for good things and we cry for bad things. But we know what we’re doing makes a difference for that child and for that family and that feels so good.
Vital Stats: Elizabeth Reich
Joined Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona in 2010
Graduated from Whittier College with a degree in political science
Previous jobs include vice president of advancement at Childhelp; CEO at VisionQuest 20/20; and vice president of development at Banner Health Foundation
From 1998-2003, was executive director of what is now called The Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families, consisting of the Governors’ Divisions for Women, Children, Prevention of Family Violence, Drug Policy, Volunteerism, Community Outreach and Character Education
Raised money to support Banner Desert Medical Center and Banner Children’s Hospital in Mesa. Led the first stages of a capital campaign, successfully obtaining several seven-figure gifts