Make-A-Wish Northeast New York is in the midst of the 25th holiday season of its Adopt-A-Wish campaign at malls and businesses across the region. The effort raises funds to help youth with life-threatening medical conditions fulfill a dream. The organization, which covers an area from the Capital Region to the Canadian border, is working to enhance its presence in the North Country.
Five Make-A-Wish chapters serve New York state. The Northeast New York chapter encompasses 15 counties and fulfills between 90 and 100 wishes each year. Director of Mission Delivery Caryn Anatriello: “We are worried that we are missing children that could be potentially eligible for a wish, especially in the North Country.”
CEO Bill Trigg III says they will enhance their presence in Essex, Clinton, Franklin, and Hamilton counties to make sure they can grant the wish of every eligible child. “We have two primary referral centers. We have Children’s Hospital Albany Medical Center in Albany and then we have Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Medical Center up in Burlington. But we do know that some of our wish kids do not end up going to either one of those major referral centers in our chapter. So we’re just trying to do our due diligence to make sure that we’re getting the word out to the community. One of the things that Caryn’s done very well for example she established a relationship with Hudson Headwaters to help us talk to the medical community as part of the Hudson Headwaters network.”
Caryn Anatriello: “Just letting parents know that they can refer their child, the pediatric practices around here, they can refer a child with potentially life-threatening medical conditions.”
Anatriello says intensifying their presence across the entire chapter also means working to develop more relationships with the region’s businesses and recruiting more volunteers. “We wouldn’t be able to grant the wishes without our wish granting volunteers. We also have event volunteers. And we are looking for more wish granting volunteers in this area. So if folks are interested they can call our office number at 518-456-9474. In addition right now we’re running our annual Adopt-A-Wish campaign which potentially could fund eight to 10 wishes.”
Children granted wishes must be between 2½ and 18 with a life-threatening and/or critical illness. Anatriello and Trigg recall wishes that range from simple to complex. “I think a really cool one and very heartfelt was when Hannah from the Greenwich area wished to go to Israel because it’s her life’s dream to become a rabbi. Bill and I granted a wish for Dante to go to Italy and meet some of his Italian family members that he had never met before. He was also able to go in a very fast Italian sports car. How about you Bill?”
Trigg: “Well we’ve also in this past year we did our first papal wish for a boy from Troy, NY who wanted to meet Pope Francis and be blessed by him. And then this past January, literally the day before he left office, President Obama granted the wish for a 9-year-old girl from Clifton Park, NY.”
Trigg says it’s an emotional experience for everyone involved. “I’m always amazed and moved by the impact that that wish experience has on that child or teenager as well as the whole family. The parents themselves will say we’re so grateful, what can we do to help? They’re amazed by the fact that total strangers would have come together to make this amazing wish experience happen for their son or daughter. And then for the wish kids themselves you see in their eyes and in their demeanor after their wish experience they really realize that in spite of the trials and tribulations that they’ve gone through with their life-threatening medical condition they really do have that sense of hope, strength and joy that’s part of our mission statement, that I can be more, I can do more than I ever thought possible.”
A link for more information is here.