What is the Make-A-Wish Foundation®?
The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps a child and a family to navigate the stresses of a serious illness by fulfilling one personal, heartfelt wish for the child. The Foundation gives the child a magical, once-in-a-lifetime gift or experience – an interlude of respite and delight in the midst of hospitalizations and treatment schedules, physical limitations and the fear and disappointments of a life-threatening medical condition.
What is a “wish?”
A “wish” is a child’s personal, heartfelt answer to the question: “If you could go anywhere, meet anyone, have anything you wanted or be someone special for the day, what would you choose?” The Foundation is concerned that the wish be age-appropriate, not interfere with treatment and recovery, and truly is the child’s own wish, expressed as much as possible in the child’s own words.
Must my child have a terminal diagnosis to qualify?
Absolutely not. Although Make-A-Wish® children have life-threatening medical conditions, both parents and physicians would be reluctant to call the Foundation if a child had to be pronounced terminally ill first. We would like a wish to be a source of hope, joy and strength and we would like your child to have a wish experience at a point in the treatment when she or he is well enough to enjoy and benefit from the experience.
What if my child cannot communicate his or her wish?
If a child cannot communicate his or her wish, we will work closely with the family, as well as health care providers, to select a developmentally appropriate wish.
Must I wait for a doctor or social worker to suggest the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
No. You are welcome to call us yourself. Sometimes it is the children themselves who call because a friend or a roommate has had a wish and it sounds “so cool.”
If a friend or relative of your family calls us, we will send the caller back to you. A parent or medical professional, with the parent’s permission, must contact us to initiate the wish process. We will never invade your privacy by calling you first. We wait for a signal from the parents that NOW is the right time.
I don’t want to raise my child’s hopes, only to have them dashed.
The Foundation has always served every medically-qualified child. To be eligible for a wish, your child must:
If you live in another state or region of California, we will connect you to the appropriate chapter in your area. By the time we meet with your child, we will have determined that your child meets those three conditions of eligibility.
What if my child wants a trip and he or she is in the middle of a treatment schedule?
We will never interrupt a treatment schedule for a wish trip. We contact the doctor immediately, both for medical qualification and for any warning that the timing of a particular wish would disrupt a treatment. The first priority for everyone is giving your child the best possible medical intervention. Treatment schedules can often accommodate family vacations, but if they cannot, a trip is a wonderful thing for the child to look forward to and anticipate. We can have your child’s long-awaited adventure ready and waiting the moment treatment ends.
Not all wishes involve travel. Your child may have something else in mind like a new computer or puppy or bedroom furniture. We will also work to schedule this kind of wish at the best time for your child.
Are there financial considerations?
What qualifies your child for a wish is the child’s illness and age – nothing else. The Foundation does not require financial disclosures and is not a welfare type of program. Most wish families are facing the daunting financial challenges of medical treatment for catastrophic illness and many are in desperate need of support. Others are saving every penny for an urgent transplant. Some working parents have lost jobs to long hospital vigils or are trying to maintain an apartment near the hospital as well as a home elsewhere in the state. Still others know that their child has a special wish – like going to the Super Bowl or meeting Michael Jordan – that no amount of money could ever grant without assistance. We have learned that families in crisis are not able, either psychologically or financially, to plan and carry out a fantasy event for a child in the midst of other stresses.
We believe every child should be encouraged to dream and should be able to have a dream come true. In a time when children have very little control over their lives or their bodies, a wish is something they can imagine and control in every detail. Asking your child to imagine his or her wish is sometimes the most important part of the whole wish-granting process. A wish can be a practical device that opens, in an easy and natural way, a conversation about the things that are most important to your child at this particularly difficult time.
Who is involved in a wish?
The wish child’s parents, legal guardians and siblings under the age of 18 are eligible to participate in a wish. Activities arranged by the Foundation are designed for siblings as well as the wish child. We work with families based on their individual cases. We know that a child’s illness affects the entire family and a wish can provide at least one positive and fun experience for everyone.
Must there be publicity on a wish?
No publicity will ever be sought without your permission and comfort.
What should I do if I want a wish for my child?
Please call our office at (916) 437-0206 or (888) 828-9474.