Make-A-Wish BIG Wish Gala – Transforming Lives

On Friday my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Make-A-Wish BIG Wish Gala for the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana markets in Cleveland at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. What a phenomenal experience and educational evening about the impact of the Make-A-Wish organization! While I was already familiar with the mission behind Make-A-Wish, which creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses, I learned so much more throughout the evening about the power of a wish and how it truly makes a difference in the health and wellness of children dealing with significant illnesses.

We started our evening with a cocktail reception at the beautiful Hilton Cleveland Downtown (which, side note, is an amazing hotel and definitely worth a visit). During the reception, we were able to sip on a glass of wine while browsing the silent auction and live auction items up for bid. We also took in some beautiful views of the Cleveland skyline and lakefront.

After the reception, we joined our table in the ballroom to hear from the emcee, Denise Dufala, whio is a long-time supporter of Make-A-Wish and a Cleveland news personality. She introduced us to past and present “wish kids” who have experienced the power of having their wishes granted. The organization is on a quest to bring every eligible child’s wish to life, because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. We learned that wishes can have a significant impact on the lives of these children and their families. In fact, 89% of medical professionals say that the wish experience influences wish kids’ physical health. (Results from national wish impact study). And, 99% of parents reported that the wish experience gave their children increased feelings of happiness and 96% said that the wish experience strengthened their families.

Following Denise’s introduction, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at our table. We talked with other attendees about the importance of the organization and heard stories about past events and the history of the gala. The exclamation point on dinner was the amazing desserts! I couldn’t choose between the two featured items, so naturally I had both!

After dinner, we watched a video featuring Dr. Anup Patel, Section Chief of Pediatric Neurology and Director of the Complex Epilepsy Clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, with preliminary findings of a study he is conducting on the physical outcomes of wishes on kids battling critical illnesses, showing that they are more than just a “nice to have.” This video was quite powerful in showcasing that the organization truly does make a difference in the health and well-being of children with life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Patel stressed that he is “passionate about making sure every child gets a wish.”

Of course, there is a need for more awareness and fundraising to make wishes happen, as only one out of two eligible kids receive a wish. The Make-A-Wish web site makes it easy for visitors to learn more about how they can help. We were thrilled to be able to make our small mark by bidding on and winning a gift basket including tickets to a few area sports attractions. It will be wonderful this summer to attend an Akron Rubber Ducks game knowing that our small contribution went toward a larger, important cause! Last year, the BIG Wish Gala provided for 44 transformational wishes in northeast Ohio. I can’t wait to learn more about how many wishes come out of this year’s event.

If you want to learn more about Make-A-Wish, visit their web site and find out how you can get more involved. I’m so grateful to have been a part of this year’s BIG Wish Gala!

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