By Victoria Stefanelli
I’ve always recognized Make-A-Wish as an organization with an incredible mission, but it wasn’t until recently that I felt inspired to get involved. My aunt is a member of the Make-A-Wish Metro New York Women’s Council and has hosted various fundraising events in the past few years. Her involvement and enthusiasm piqued my interest in learning more about the organization. As a rising college senior studying marketing and business management, internships are a vital part of building my resume. So, becoming a Brand + Communications intern seemed like the perfect fit. Knowing that I could be a part of something so much bigger than my own experience was an opportunity I had to pursue.
From my first day at the office, and each day that followed, I felt welcomed and valued. Something I did not realize about Make-A-Wish is that the individual chapters fundraise strictly to serve their own local communities. One of the many ways Make-A-Wish Metro New York does this is by hosting an annual gala. I was absolutely honored to not only help prepare for this summer’s event but to also attend. At the end of the night we had raised $1.7 million to grant the wishes of kids in our community. Seeing the result of everyone’s hard work was awe-inspiring. The pure joy on the faces of wish families in attendance was an overwhelming confirmation of why this mission is so important.
In my time here at Make-A-Wish, I learned about hundreds of wishes. Actually, my primary assignment was to create a database, organizing the communication elements - photos, videos, social media links, written stories - that we had for recent wish kids. It amazed me how distinct and creative some wishes were, such as one child who wished to provide aid for the homeless in his community. I am continuously inspired by those who choose to use their special opportunity on others. Despite living with life-threatening illnesses, so many children still believe that there are other people who deserve it more.
But of all the wishes to give, to be, to go, to have, and to meet, the one I will never forget is a child who simply wished “to eat a sandwich with Mickey Mouse.” Of course, meeting Mickey also meant a trip to Disney World, yet more than anything in the world she wanted to eat a sandwich with her favorite character. Even thinking of this wish now warms my heart. Despite how difficult their lives may be, wish kids are still just children. It is truly amazing to see how a few moments, hours, or days of joy can be so life-changing for a child and their family, and I am so grateful to have played even a small part in making more wishes possible.