MR. ROB SACHS
We turn now to another organization dedicated to making dreams come true. For 30 years, the Make a Wish Foundation has been helping children with life-threatening illnesses find happiness by making the impossible possible.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
That's right. And here to tell us more about it is WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza. Hi, Kavitha.
MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA
Hi, Rebecca. Hi, Rob.
So, Kavitha, can you tell us a little more about Make a Wish? On a local level, how many kids do they help out each year?
The Mid-Atlantic chapter, which includes Delaware, Virginia, Maryland and The District, granted the wishes of more than 400 children last year.
So that's more than a kid a day. How does this whole thing work? Are there limits to how much a kid can request?
Well, they wouldn't say that there was a limit, but they do have to balance providing what they call quality wishes with providing as many wishes as they can. The average wish, though, costs $7500 and, of course, some wishes have no cash value. For example, there are some parents who can afford to maybe send their child abroad or buy them something, but that wouldn't give them access, say, to their favorite pop singer or TV personality.
And I hear you met a little girl in southeast D.C. who had her dream come true...
...thanks to Make a Wish.
Yes. Her name is India Banks Mackey. And let's listen to her mother, Portia, with a little bit more about her daughter's condition.
India was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at one. It's cancer of the eye. They had to remove the eye. So she's gone through six surgeries.
Wow. That's really something. So what did India wish for?
To be a princess.
The Make a Wish Foundation was able to send the entire family to Disney World, which was really wonderful for the family because as the mother said, when one child has got an illness, everyone kind of focuses on that one child and the other children sometimes feel left out. But the foundation gets a lot of requests for fun wishes. I spoke with Mora Harti (sp?) who heads the Mid-Atlantic chapter and she told me about Loni from Hagerstown, Md. and how they helped him become a superhero.
MS. MORA HARTI
We elicited the assistance of the U.S. Department of State, The Parks Service, the Smithsonian Institute, The Cartoon Network itself, as well as a lovely local company called EmbroidMe. And together we put together a wish where the little boy's name is Loni became not Benton, but Loniton. And during the day, he vanquished an evil scientist who was trying to make the dinosaurs come alive at the Smithsonian so that they would wreak havoc in the city. And then, he saved his doctor from aliens who had kidnapped his doctor and taken him hostage in the Washington Monument. There were probably no fewer than 50 or 60 adults involved in making that wish come true.
Sometimes, Harti says, a wish may have to be modified.
Obviously, if a child said I wanted to go to the moon tomorrow, that'd be impossible for us. But we would do something like find a space camp or something that was related to the wish to the very best of our abilities. One of the practical reasons is with respect to travel wishes. If the United States Department of State has a travel warning on a country that a child wishes to go to, we will not send them there. There are several other insurance related items that we don't do. We will not put in in-ground swimming pools in place. We may do one aboveground, but we will not do an in-ground swimming pool because they're all related to a health safety issue and a well-being of the child and the other people who might participate in the wish.
Some of the wishes are very elaborate, while some are relatively simple to set up. But Harti says each one is important to that individual child.
I did hear a story, when I first came on board here, about a little girl whose wish was to have her ears pierced. And so we gently pulled mom aside and said, you know, maybe you can do that and we could work on something a little bit bigger than that. And it's not a question ever in our minds of pulling out a calculator and doing the math. And if one little child wants to travel to a country they've never seen before or another little child wants that guitar, that's what they want and that's what we want to do.
So getting back to India Banks Mackey in southeast, what did she think about her wish coming true?
She was thrilled. She goes through this thick photo album every single day.
Wow, that's nice.
Well, Kavitha Cardoza, thank you so much for coming in and talking with us today.
Thank you for having me.
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