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(WJHL) – The local affiliate of Make-A-Wish has been granting wishes to Tri-Cities kids for 34 years. Through their decades of service, their one goal hasn’t changed: To give kids a lasting memory after some rough medical issues.
Garrett Wagley, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish East Tennessee, says the team works hard to give kids with critical conditions something crucial: Hope.
“These are kids that have had a piece of their childhood stolen away from them,” he said. “They’ve been in hospitals. They’ve had needle sticks or chemotherapy and all that, really that down period. But a wish is something that it’s anticipation, it’s hope, it’s something on the horizon. It’s a reason to fight harder and to, you know, work to overcome your condition.”
Last year, the group granted 75 wishes, and there are a lot more wishes waiting. It’s a never-ending labor of love that team members say they are happy to tackle.
“We set out trying to determine what the [child’s] wish is and that there’s a little bit of magic and art in that, to really figure out what the child wishes, and what it is about that thing that’s really going to bring them joy. And how do we bring that out and make that the focus of the wish,” Wagley said.
From trips to Disney or Universal, to pools or basketball courts, Wagley hopes the Wish Kids receive a memory that will hopefully overshadow the struggles they’ve endured.
“You know medical technology has advanced so much now, and we know that receiving a wish is part of that medical treatment,” he said. “It’s the mental health side of getting a kid better. And hope is so powerful, it gives someone a reason to look on the horizon and that helps our bodies so much and helps us fight the illnesses that we might face.”
Giving hope to kids, one wish at a time. For more information on Make-A-Wish East Tennessee, including how you can help, click here.