In fifth grade, Mengie from Boynton Beach went on a class trip to Washington D.C. An even bigger history buff, Mengie, who is now 18 and suffers from a life-threatening immunity disorder, wanted to capitalize on her wish by returning to the U.S. capital. She decided that since she is older, she would appreciate the trip even more and wanted to share the experience with her family. Once in Washington D.C., she soaked up all that she could and was thrilled to learn so much about U.S. history. Mengie and her family visited the zoo, the aquarium, several museums and every landmark in town. It was such an electrifying experience that she decided she wants to attend college in Washington D.C.
Wish Granters: Gary & Elaine Shore
Referred by: Jennifer Piva, her nurse
Wish adopted by Anixter
Three-year-old Hiram was a little shy at first when he met the different characters at Walt Disney World®, but once Princess Belle saw that his shoelaces were untied and offered to help him, Hiram became delighted and overcame his shyness. He and his family visited five theme parks including SeaWorld and Islands of Adventure. Seeing the seals and legendary Shamu at SeaWorld left Hiram in awe. During the family’s stay at Give Kids The World Village, Hiram would start off his day with a train ride and an ice cream scoop before heading off to the theme parks. It was truly an unforgettable and fun time for Hiram! Also, who wouldn’t want a chance to have TWO days of birthday celebrations and eating ice cream with their meal every day!
Wish Granters: Kara Salsburg-Boehly & Leaha Widrowicz
Referred by: Bernadette Brunetti, his social worker
Wish adopted by: Pollo Campero of Illinois, LLC
Last year in July our lives were turned upside down with Alan’s illness. He went through a very aggressive treatment that ended this year in late January. It’s unfortunate but a fact that until something likes this touches your life, you don’t fully appreciate and recognize what wonderful work many organizations out there do for our community. Although I knew of Make-A-Wish and knew the premise of your organization, it was not until now that I’ve lived it that I can truly appreciate the importance and true gift that you give to your wish families. It’s not only the generosity of the gifts you provide but more importantly it’s the emotional gift you give.
Our Alaskan Cruise was absolutely wonderful. Our wish coordinator was right when she said Carnival would treat Alan and our family like royalty…they did! I have to say that I was a little selfish in that several members of our family wanted to book the same cruise and share this time with us. I asked them not to as I wanted this time alone just the five of us and I’m so happy that it turned out that way. I’m sure you’ve heard from other families what a toll something like this takes not only on the child but on the family as a whole. This time we had alone as a family gave us time to reconnect, laugh and just be together which was beyond amazing.
When you get caught up in the day to day activities of work, school…responsibilities and obligations in general, it’s natural to lose sight of what’s important; time with your loved ones. Although we all know how important it is, it’s usually hard to find. What you gave our family was seven days of worry free time together to laugh and enjoy each other’s company; you can’t put a value on that!
The Quintana Family
Senior Accounting and Human Resources Coordinator
Since November 2012
Started in October 2010, also held position of Accounting Coordinator
Involvement in the wish process: I am responsible for all of the accounting functions within the organization. I monitor all funds that go in and out of the bank, which is directly related to the ability to grant wishes. I also oversee the debit card program, which gives wish kids debit cards for spending money for their wishes.
Most challenging part of the job: The most challenging part of my job is time management and meeting deadlines. As with any accounting position, I have many deadlines that I have to meet on a monthly basis. I am constantly seeking new ways to be more effective and efficient and learning to prioritize in order to make that happen.
Most rewarding part of the job: The most rewarding part of my job is hearing the wish stories and seeing the smiles on the faces of these very deserving children. Having recently had my first child, I can truly appreciate the smile on a child’s face. Knowing that I had even the smallest role in bringing a little bit of joy to an otherwise challenging life makes me very thankful to have the career that I do.
Personal Life: I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved down to Coral Springs when I was two. I have one older sister (Melissa), who currently lives in Lafayette, Indiana and works at Purdue University. In 2003, I moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida and pursue a Bachelors degree in Finance. After graduation, I worked for The Bank of New York Mellon doing Mutual Fund Accounting for three years until I moved back down to South Florida and began my career here at Make-A-Wish. In 2011, I married my best friend, Patrick, and we welcomed our first daughter, Kennedy, this past July.
Little Known Fact: I am extremely double jointed in my fingers and arms.
I am: A people pleaser, a perfectionist and easy going.
If I could wish for anything, I would…
Wish to be: a professional figure skater
Wish to have: a Honda Crosstour
Wish to go: to Ireland
Wish to meet: Tim Tebow
My perception of moving to Florida was spending time on the beach, golf course, eating out, but that was not enough for me. I was so used to being busy all the time so I felt I needed to find something more, so I did some searching on my own. Checking the local newspapers, I saw a column of volunteer opportunities, read them and decided to contact the local Make-A-Wish office. I did just that, introduced myself and volunteered for almost every option available. That was the beginning of a long and rewarding volunteer opportunity for me.
I signed up for both Wish Maker and Wish Granter training because I felt it would be beneficial to know both sides of this organization and I have worn both hats from the very beginning. It has given me a true understanding of the vision and depth of this incredible organization.
It is so easy to become complacent when everything in your life and surroundings appears to be so wonderful and it seems as if those around you are experiencing exactly the same things. Then something strikes you, or you read/hear about someone’s struggles. That’s when you realize that you are here for a reason and it‘s up to you to figure out what it is. For me, it was to become involved with Make-A-Wish.
I have become so passionate about this organization over the years and never miss the opportunity to share my feelings when asked. Having met countless children and their families through the years has given me a true sense of how priceless wishes are to all of them. Whether it’s a shopping spree, a computer, a cruise or a trip to some fabulous location, it gives them a break from doctors, hospitals, injections and they can just enjoy the moment and the experience. That is truly a gift that most of us can’t comprehend. I hear their joy and yet find that I, too, have that same feeling…it’s hard to explain but you “get it” when you are a volunteer.
There is nothing more rewarding that being a part of Make-A-Wish. It grounds you..it makes you appreciate what you have…and it reveals the true courage of the families and their special children that you meet. If only we all possessed that same courage, hope and fortitude.
Greeted with a fragrant lei and a friendly “Aloha,” 10-year-old Maggie from Boynton Beach felt right at home during her wish trip to Hawaii. It was her ideal wish because of her love of the outdoors and her desire to have fun with her family. There’s so much to do and see in Honolulu and Maggie, who is battling leukemia, tried her hardest to do it all.
There was time for plenty of water activities including snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, with its horseshoe-shaped beach lined with mountains. To make her swim even more special, a turtle poked its head out to say aloha. She and her father also took a private surf lesson with the Hawaiian Fire Surf School at Kalaeloa Beach where the waves are tame enough for beginners to tackle.
At a traditional luau, Maggie and her family learned the hula, played island games and made their own leis. Maggie got a turtle painted on her arm and tasted the local specialty called poi. She had one word for the paste-like Polynesian favorite – “Eck!”
Having studied Hawaii in school, Maggie revisited her history class with a tour of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor. She even trekked to the top of Diamond Head, a dormant volcano, that she said is “like a crater.” She took a bus tour of Oahu, where she saw lots of breathtaking mountain and water views.
Maggie’s mother said, “It was a fantastic time for our whole family. Maggie had a ball every day.”
Wish Granters: Elaine Oswald & Carolyn Pucci
Referred by: a family friend
Adopted by: Jewelers for Children