JACKSON TWP. The Wish-a-Thon fundraiser for Wishes Can Happen recently celebrated a major fundraising milestone by passing the $1 million mark cumulatively over the past 11 years. The fundraiser is held once a year in the summer. Proceeds go to the local Wishes Can Happen organization.
The event this year was held in the Springbrook Plaza on Whipple Avenue on Aug. 9 and 10. It’s hosted by Alpha Media, the parent company of radio WHBC and Mix 94.1.
"As a radio station, we serve the public and we’ve selected Wishes Can Happen for the past 11 years as part of that service," said Alpha Media Marketing Manager Larry Gawthrop. "Wishes Can Happen serves the local market and it is a worthwhile cause."
Wishes Can Happen Community Relations Director Madelyn Sweeney said that the goal this year was to raise enough to grant 40 wishes. At 2 p.m. on Aug. 10, they had raised enough for 25 wishes. Each wish costs, on average, $5,000.
"We just had an anonymous donor stopped by and donated $10,000," Sweeney said. "This donor stops by every year and gives a large check. Many of our donors give money anonymously because their focus is on helping us grant kids their wishes. They don’t care to receive any recognition for their help."
Founded by Cyndi Morrow in 1982, Wishes Can Happen is a nonprofit organization located in North Canton. It’s an all volunteer group that works to grant wishes to children with life threatening illnesses in Ohio. The organization’s objective is to put a smile on the faces of its wish children and create a happy memory for their family. The group has granted over 1,500 wishes.
Davan O’Reilly is one of the teenagers who received a wish in 2016. She got to go on a cruise with mother, one of her best friends and the friend’s mother. Davan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and had a tumor wrapped around one of her parotid glands which are the largest of salivary glands and located on either side of the face.
She is getting ready to attend the University of Kentucky in pre-med. During her latest visit to the oncologist at Cleveland Clinic, she learned her cancer is in remission.
"Getting my wish granted was fantastic," O’Reilly said. "The wishes help kids get away from being surrounded by doctors for a short time. It’s a breath of fresh air and an amazing relief."
Evan Heller is 17 years old and he also received a wish of an Alaskan Cruise last year. He was born with a congenital heart defect and with spina bifida.
"It’s important for kids to get away and have some fun and get to be themselves." Heller said. "I’m donating by birthday money this year to help the next kid get a wish."
The fundraiser was taking donation by telephone or people could stop by in person and give donations. There was an area designated as a donation drive up for people to stop and donate without getting out of their car.
For more information about or to make a donation to Wishes Can Happen, visit the website at wishescanhappen.org.