The Times West Virginian

Opinion

April 28, 2013

Donations to Make-A-Wish make dreams become reality

Reilly Albertson won’t tell you which Disney princess is her favorite one.

Belle? Cinderella? Aurora?

The little 5-year-old girl just smiles without giving an answer. She’ll spend her sixth birthday this week spending time with the princesses, and maybe she’ll choose a favorite then. But it’s unlikely, as the trip with her parents is a wish come true.

And a wish that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of people throughout North Central West Virginia.

Reilly, a spina bifida patient, has been given the chance to visit the princesses and Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney World this week through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern West Virginia. Julie Albertson, Reilly’s mother, said she was thankful for all the support the family received from Make-A-Wish and the community an event held this weekend in Fairmont.

“Reilly’s journey hasn’t always been a smooth one,” she said. “This just kinda gives us an opportunity to get away from the doctors and the day-to-day stuff here and just relax and enjoy a vacation as a family.”

You wouldn’t have been able to tell about that long journey if you met Reilly, the little blonde-haired girl with a bright pink sweater and a brighter smile. She spent the evening collecting golden horseshoe decorations from the tables at the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Derby Days fundraising event on Friday. She collected four of the horseshoes and hooked them on one extended arm.

“Look!” she said in an excited voice. “I can still wheel my wheelchair and balance these on one arm!”

Each year, Make-A-Wish Northern West Virginia grants between 62 and 65 life-changing wishes for children with life­-threatening medical conditions. These wish experiences can be pivot points in the course of a child’s treatment, making them feel better and, in some cases, helping them get better. A wish­-come-true strengthens families, provides moments of happiness and inspiration, and helps create strong community bonds.

If you were unable to make it to Fairmont’s fundraiser, you can still help make wishes come true for young ones to come.

World Wish Day on Monday is a chance for you to donate dollars or airline miles to fund airline tickets for wishes that involve travel.

“So many of our wishes require airline miles,” said Marian Silverstein, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern West Virginia. “We want the community to understand that with travel expenses, we need these miles.

“Air travel is a critical resource as we work to grant the heartfelt — and oftentimes very creative — wishes of children with life­-threatening medical conditions.

“Donating airline miles or dol­lars will allow us to continue cre­ating thousands of lasting moments for children with life-­threatening medical conditions.”

On Monday, you can visit www.nwestva.wish.org or www.wish.org/tickets to donate dollars or frequent flier miles.

WWE star John Cena will per­sonally match every frequent flier mile donated in April, up to 4.5 million. United Airlines will also support World Wish Day by matching the donations of its MileagePlus members, up to 3 million miles, through April 30.

So donate those miles and dollars to make wishes come true. With all of the grown-up conversations and hospital stays and painful procedures, little ones like Reilly deserve the chance to leave it all behind and be a princess for a day.

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