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Make-A-Wish Live

Jun 13, 2017

Power of a Wish New York Gala by Arda Ocal

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My heart and soul are full of joy this morning as I open my laptop and type out this blog.

Red Carpet Host Arda OcalLast week I had the honor of being a part of the Power Of A Wish Gala and I have never left an event so inspired in my entire life. I was grinning ear to ear the entire way home. It was as if the Cipriani Ballroom on Wall Street was full of long lost relatives, new best friends and like minded positive people.

And that was really the theme of the gala: The Power Of A Wish. The positivity and hope that wish brings to a kid with a life threatening illness. How it helps them heal, gives them a pivotal moment or event to look forward to and hold onto for the rest of their lives.

Red Carpet Hosts Arda Ocal & Morgan RadfordMorgan Radford of NBC News and I tag teamed the "blue" carpet on the live stream and it was a blast. Morgan is amazing! I was lucky to have such a wonderful and talented partner in crime on this night.

You can watch the entire stream here. Shout out to Kent Speakman and the Knekt TV team for putting on such a great broadcast. 

Since I didn't actually get a picture with Nigel Barker (a long time supporter of Make-A-Wish who has helped grant many wishes), here is a random picture of us shaking hands on the stream. Wish Ambassador Nigel Barker


Beside Nigel in that picture is Steven Izen, the founder of Lokai. You've probably seen their bracelets before but they have such a wonderful meaning behind them and often partner with great charities worldwide, including Make A Wish! It just so happened Steven and I were wearing the Make A Wish Lokai bracelets to the gala. Fancy that!

Tone Thyne, VP of Creative, FablevisionAt my table was Tone Thyne, who helped grant a very special wish this year: not only is Tone an animator but is the VP of Creative at Fablevision,  an educational media developer and production studio on a mission to bring the world to a better place through media and storytelling (...ok, I got that line from their website, but seemed appropriate!) Tone met Nina, a wish kid who wanted nothing more than to be a blue cowgirl. Her wish came true and the video played at the gala was incredible! (the full video is in the stream above). 


By far the most inspiring people I met that night were the wish kids. Not only did these kids hold on to that pivotal moment in their lives, but they went on to live great lives and do something amazing in the process!
 
Wish Alum, Keynote Speaker, Isiah NewTake one of the speakers at the gala, Isaiah, who has spent much of his life in hospitals, getting treatments for a painful condition that will last through his lifetime. After seeing the film Catwoman in 2004, Isaiah was inspired. His mother told us he would whip invisible villains in the living room for weeks after seeing that movie, and wanted to meet the real Catwoman! Lo and behold, the Santa Monica Pier was closed off one afternoon and Halle Berry herself showed up to spend some quality time! Isaiah had gotten his wish! They played mini golf (he wouldn't tell us who won :p), had a great time. At the end of their meeting, Isaiah told us she gave him a piece of paper with an email and "KIT", for "Keep in touch". The problem was, Isaiah didn't have a computer... that is, until he got home, and there was a computer waiting for him, sent by Halle! They kept in touch. Not only that, Isaiah learned everything he could about that computer and coding. He earned himself a full scholarship at Columbia University and graduated a couple of years ago. 

Wish Alum, StephanieThis is Stephanie. She is an incredible dancer. She told me my two step needs work (spoiler alert: it does). In Decmeber of 2015 she was diagnosed with stage 3 germ cell cancer. Her wish was to have a dance photoshoot with world renowned dance photographer David Hoffman (aka Shark Cookie). This is from months later -  Not only that, Shark Cookie asked her to stay on as a model and she does work with them as schedules permit! She has completed treatment, is back in school and continues with her burgeoning dance career. She even got to dance at Radio City Music Hall!

Wish Alum, SamanthaThis is Samantha. Not only is she a genius computer programmer, she's also an expert baker. This was confirmed by Karlie Kloss. Since that time Sam has put those coding skills to use and is in the process of creating an app, inVISABLE (find them on instagram @in.visable and check out Sam's video. Sam got inspired to create the app through the scars of her own health battles, which have inspired many around her, even celebrities, like Allesia Cara.

These are just 3 examples of the many inspiring stories that could be found at the Power Of A Wish gala. The entire photo gallery can be found here.

Whether you were in attendance, watched the live stream or even reading this blog post wondering how to get more involved, you certainly can. I'm a volunteer, you can be as well. You can also donate. Visit http://metrony.wish.org for more information.

Good vibes and positive thoughts,
Arda


About this Blog

For me, the point of volunteering for Make-A-Wish is to bring the skills and passion I have for storytelling to make more wishes come true. I love bringing stories alive through multimedia platforms - social media, blogs and video posts – so that all of you can feel like you are front and center watching a wish unfold live! I’m excited to bring you incredible stories of joy, resilience and healing that can only happen with Make-A-Wish.

I first witnessed the power of a wish first hand through my work as a broadcaster with WWE. It was incredibly powerful to see children whose wish to meet their favorite WWE star, literally transformed right in front of my eyes.

I'm going to be your host as Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of critically ill children. I can't wait to bring you these extraordinary stories involving incredible people! Please feel free to reach out and let me know what you are thinking about the stories and let’s figure out how everyone can get involved.”

Arda Ocal @ardaocaltv

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