Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Dreams Come True

Today I'm going to tell you about an organization that is near and dear to my heart, the Make A Wish Foundation! I was first introduced to Make a Wish in fifth grade, that's the year I met Linzie...


 

Linzie was the new girl in my class, we were instantly friends. She told me that she moved to my school because the kids at her previous school were mean to her, she left it at that. When I got home that afternoon I told my mom all about my new friend, and how I didn't understand why anyone would be mean to her - she was really nice and laughed a whole lot. I'll never forget my mom lifting me up and sitting me on the kitchen counter, I watched as her face went from serious to sad as she began to explain to me that Linzie was very sick. To this day I'm not sure how my mom knew all this information, then again, when you are in fifth grade you don't pay much attention to the buzz around your small town. My mom told me that when Linzie was born she wasn't a healthy baby like most kids, so in order to make her better they gave her a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, they didn't screen blood for diseases until 1984... Linzie was born in 1983. The blood that she was given in order to save her life turned out to be HIV-positive. Like most fifth graders, those three letters meant nothing to me... What's that mean? What is HIV?


My mom explained that HIV was a disease that was very, very dangerous. If Linzie ever got sick or if something happened and she got hurt on the playground, I was to go get a teacher immediately. Mom told me that I didn't need to be scared, most likely the kids at Linzie's last school were scared and that was why they acted mean, out of fear... Instead, I needed to understand it was important to protect myself, and equally important to protect Linzie. The most valuable lesson I learned in fifth grade was that some people, like me, needed protection with latex gloves, other people, like Linzie, needed their hearts protected by much stronger things, like kindness and friendship. My mother, with amazing grace, encouraged me by telling me how happy she was that I was Linzie's friend because she knew that I would take very good care of her heart. The next day, I returned to school aware but not the least bit scared, and on a mission to protect Linzie by being the best friend ever. {Daily, I pray for the grace, wisdom and courage of my mother}



Linzie and my little group of buddies fell right into stride... We spent our days making friendship bracelets, playing basketball and chasing boys during recess. If anyone was mean to Linzie, I didn't know it - my Mrs. Ford's fifth grade class embraced her with no hesitation. At her birthday party, she proudly showed us her most prized possession - a picture of her with Reba McEntire. She loved Reba! She told us all about her grand adventure... She had gone to the concert, went backstage and even got to hang out with Reba!! It was awesome. On my way home from the party I told my mom all about Linzie's cool experience. How in the world did she get to do that? My mom explained that there was an organization called Make A Wish that helped sick kids get their wishes granted. From that day on, I was in awe of Make a Wish and it's ability to make dreams come true. 


Linzie never made it to middle school. During the summer after fifth grade year, she got sick. My parents had always taken my little brother and me to the hospital to visit family and friends when they were ill. They wanted us to understand how important it was to give people your time, and more importantly your prayers, whenever they were in need. At the time I didn't understand, but we weren't allowed to visit Linzie because our germs could make her worse. So instead of visiting, we became pen pals. In my last letter to Linzie I had enclosed my best string tying work - a colorful friendship bracelet. A month after the start of sixth grade, Linzie went to meet Jesus. My other two best friends and I attended the funeral with our parents. Linzie's mom hugged us and thanked us for our friendship to her daughter. With big tears and an even bigger smile she pulled me aside and told me that the friendship bracelet I had made kept getting tangled in Linzie's IVs, but when the nurse tried to cut it off Linzie put up quite the fight. They decided that she could keep it on... she never took it off. I still have mine today as well, it's in my "Special Box" with a picture of my fifth grade class. 


I have had the privilege of being a wish granter for Make A Wish for three years now. It's the least I can do to return the favor for the great joy they brought my friend! 


Big Sister Taetum, Me and Wish Kid Malie
Since 1980, Make A Wish has been taking the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses and making them a reality. Their mission is to bring the child hope, strength and joy. How amazing is that?! 


This is how the basic process works - A Wish Kid is referred by a medical professional or his/her parents, Make A Wish matches the child with two wish granters, the wish granters help the kid figure out their wish, Make A Wish finds donors to sponsor the wish, and tada! A child's dream comes true!


I serve as a wish granter for the organization. Our purpose is to be the liaison between the Wish Kid and Make A Wish. We help the parents with the required paperwork (which is pretty minimal) and we try our best to spoil the Wish Kids! The most important responsibility is helping the child determine what their wish is - it can be ANYTHING their little minds can think of! Make A Wish will make it happen! 


Wish Kid Keller and his sister Olivia came to visit me at an OU Basketball Game!
Brandon is their other wish granter, but this was the cutest picture... Sorry B.
Have you ever been to a child's birthday party and little brother/sister is upset because Birthday Kid is getting all the attention and tons of presents? It's a hard concept for a child to grasp, today is Birthday Kid's day. Now imagine how much more difficult it would be if everyday was Birthday Kid's day because instead of it being his birthday, he is sick. Make A Wish thought of this and made sure little brother/sister isn't left out. When we come with gifts, EVERYBODY gets them! When Wish Kid decides he wants to go on a trip, EVERYBODY goes! Make A Wish understands that an illness doesn't effect only one person, it is felt by the entire family. Their goal is to bring hope, strength and joy to the entire family.


Oh and did I mention, Make A Wish makes sure that the Wish Kid gets his wish at ZERO cost to the family. Make A Wish pays for every. single. thing! From the limo rides, to the flight, to the food, they even send spending money! It truly is amazing...


I have had the privilege of working with two awesome Wish Kids, their incredibly strong parents, and their ridiculously adorable siblings. I instantly fell head over heels for both of these precious families! Both Malie and Keller wished to go to Disney World! There is a special 70-acre resort called Give Kids the World that Disney created just for Wish Kids! They resort is staffed by volunteers and medical professionals so that the kids and their families can spend a stress free week at Disney, knowing that if anything goes wrong they are in good hands! The resort is designed to appear as a scene out of Candy Land! It is so awesome!! 



If you have any additional questions or are interested in getting involved, please do not hesitate to contact me or Make a Wish directly by visiting wwww.makeawish.org! Make A Wish has chapters throughout the United States, so regardless of where you live there is a place for you to get involved! A wish is granted every 38 minutes, wouldn't you like to be a part of making a child's dream come true?! 


Be Blessed!
Raegan

4 comments:

  1. This totally made me tear up! Your blog is the bomb!

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  2. thanks for sharing this Raegan

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  3. What a great mom you have and friend you are. That would be hard to educate your child to where you don't scare them, but also have them still reach out. I'm sure that meant so much to Lynzie's mom and her.

    And how wonderful they you're able to keep her memory alive with Make a Wish. My sister was a wish granter for several years and it takes a very special person to do that. I'd be a basket case :)!!

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  4. I have gone to Give Kids The World that last 3 summers to volunteer. What an awesome and eye opening experience. It definitely humbled me. Loved reading this post, you have a big heart!

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