Last week, I drove down to Make-A-Wish® Greater Los Angeles headquarters. The entire way there, I was excited from head to toe, anxious to meet with Make-A-Wish’s Manager of External Events, Taylor Kalman. But even more so, I found myself in an attitude of gratitude to be granted the opportunity to reunite with this fabulous organization. Since the inception of the Michael Trouble project and long before, Make-A-Wish® has held a very special place in my family’s heart.
During Michael’s long journey toward wellness, he became the foundation’s 4,500th wish recipient. To commemorate Michael’s big day, a party was held at the House of Blues to coincide with the foundation’s 20th anniversary. Instead of simply driving to the party with my sister and brother-in-law, heroic firefighters from Los Angeles Fire Station 41 drove Michael there in their fire truck. With red alarm lights swirling and full-sized, Make-A-Wish® banners affixed to both sides of the truck, our baby arrived in style.
Needless to say, every child in attendance that afternoon was met with fanfare and fun fit for royalty. Once inside, feeling the thumping music, you better believe out little #TroubleMaker fist-pumped and danced the afternoon away. Making friends and small talk with EVERYone that passed, Michael was more himself than he had been in a while. Seeing his spunk return was beyond music to our ears.
As if that weren’t enough of a blessing, Make-A-Wish® wasn’t done with Michael just yet. The next week offered Michael the awesome opportunity to dine exclusively with Mickey Mouse, one of his heroes, and to enjoy Disneyland with his family. Both occasions were marked with happiness and my sister’s sentiment, “That day was to reward Michael for what he went through. He was such a hero and an inspiration. I was so happy for him and beyond thankful for Make-A-Wish®.”
As soon as I’m allowed into the Make-A-Wish® headquarters, I’m immediately greeted with the sound of happy chatter. Phones are ringing, keyboards are clicking, and every miracle worker inside has a smile plastered across their face. Undoubtedly, every nuance of sound and activity is all in the spirit of fulfilling wishes, making arrangements, raising necessary funds, and a million other incidentals that I never would have imagined. The saying, “It takes a village…” is literally epitomized in this grand space.
To the right of the lobby is a very cool playroom that has a custom-built, wooden tree house for the young guests. The jungle theme is patterned across the walls, while the shelves are brimming with books. The space is flanked by tike-sized table and chair sets and toy bins line the perimeter. In a nutshell, this is the ULTIMATE kid’s palace.
Immediately, I am treated like family and am greeted with hugs and acceptance. Once I have an opportunity to sit down and share the project, I’m met with even warmer smiles and many “thank yous”. Can you imagine that? Them saying “thank you” to me? In comparison to the miracle work they do on a daily basis, I was beyond humbled and grateful. Vocalizing that we all share a common goal of helping children in need, I happily expressed that our individual paths have us achieving that mission in our own unique ways. At that point, my heart had completely morphed into marshmallow puff and I was left with the healing spirit of God’s love.
Just to understand the enormity of Make-A-Wish’s scope and dept of influence, Make-A-Wish® Greater Los Angeles offered me these statistics. It chronicles the enormous outreach and miracles that are blessed on a daily basis in Greater Los Angeles, alone.
- 34 years since Make-A wish has been in Los Angeles
- 9,300+ wishes granted in Los Angeles since 1983
- 351 wishes granted in 2016 for Los Angeles wish kids
- 319 wishes hosted in Los Angeles in 2016 for wish kids from around the world
- 500+volunteers needed each year
- 900 kids diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition this year in Los Angeles County
- 429 referrals of potential new wish kids in 2016
- 12,000+ people who are touched by Make-A-Wish® each year
- 60% of Los Angeles wish children in Spanish speaking households
- $10,000 is the average cost of a wish in Los Angeles
- 71 million donated miles needed for Los Angeles kids travel wishes each year
- 74% of funds used for wish granted FY16
- 70% of wish kids who live to adulthood
- 34 Every 34 minutes a wish is granted somewhere in the United States
Blessed with the opportunity to keep our books in their lobby, my hope is that children and families in need will come to realize that this resource is available to help them. Ultimately, however, my supreme goal is to one day hold a story contest whereby the winner gets their own hospital adventure story created, alongside Michael Trouble. What a special gift and keepsake to treasure forever. Perhaps my dream will come to fruition one day. Until then, this little caboose will continue moving full steam ahead. Thank you Make-A-Wish! We love you!
For information about Make-A-Wish® donations, please use this link.