Friday, January 7, 2011

Season of Wishes: A Success!

Close your eyes. Open your heart. Let the Season of Wishes Begin.
That was the national tagline associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America holiday campaign, Season of Wishes®.
Across the country, the 66 local level chapters of the wish-granting organization put their best foot forward to encourage the public to consider making local donations and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine followed suit.
To kick off the Season of Wishes in Maine, wish child Cameron Tufts of New Gloucester was invited to light the Christmas tree in Monument Square, downtown Portland. Thanks to the Portland Downtown District and WHOM radio, Cameron was on stage with Santa and the city mayor to flip the giant candy-cane switch.
“I’m really not sure what was more beautiful,” said Vicki Parker, volunteer wish granter who is working with Cameron to grant his wish, “the lights on the tree or the light from Cameron’s smile when everyone clapped with delight after he flipped the switch. What a wonderful moment - and memory - for him after battling leukemia for three years.”
The goal this year for the Maine chapter was higher than any other seasonal campaign they had attempted: raise enough money to grant 15 wishes ($90,000). Why a higher goal this year?
A wish is granted to a Maine child every five days, on average. Each wish costs approximately $6,000 and to ensure wishes would be granted to each child scheduled through February, this was the amount needed.
To promote the campaign and raise awareness, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine teamed with radio partner 107.5/105.5 Frank FM. The station interviewed and broadcast stories from wish children, parents and volunteers.
“It’s a joy every year meeting these kids, and seeing first hand how these wishes transform their lives,” said Leif Erickson, On-Air Talent and Music Director of Frank FM. “It’s an honor to be a part of this, and to use the power of radio to help those in our community who really need it. I’m already counting down the weeks to next year’s campaign!”
The public responded in full force and came forward to generously donate gifts of $5, $10, hundreds or thousands of dollars, ultimately surpassing the $90,000 goal. In total, $103,000 was raised, which is enough to grant wishes to 17 Maine children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“Most of the donations that came through were of small denominations,” said Tom Peaco, Executive Director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine. “Even when businesses came forward to give us a large check, it was usually a result of employees donating $15 here or there. These small numbers added up quickly as everyone came together to help our local children during their most challenging times.”
Corporate and major support came from VIP Parts, Tires & Service; Macy’s; Kepware Technologies; People’s United Bank: S. Maine Division; Village Candle; KeyBank; Dunkin’ Donuts of Greater Portland; Snap-On Tools; Auburn Fire Fighters Local 797; Stantec; Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker; Norton Lights, and the Ring Family Farm.
One of the first wishes to use funds from this campaign will be from a 12-year-old boy living in Ellsworth who had wished to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia.
Other upcoming wishes that will be granted because of the generous donations to this campaign include: Cameron, 9, of New Gloucester who wishes for a room renovation; Lea, 11, from Auburn who wishes to go to Walt Disney World®; James, 8, of Portland who wishes to go to Sea World®; Sam, 9, of Scarborough who wishes to go on a Nickelodeon® Cruise; Tonika, 15, of Augusta who wishes to go to Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas; Ethan, 9, of Turner who wishes to go on a dinosaur dig with a paleontologist; Erika, 17, of Edgecomb who wishes to go to New York City; Rachel, 16, of W. Baldwin who wishes to go to Paws Up Ranch in Montana; and eight more Maine children.
Photo caption: For his wish, 9-year-old Cameron Tufts of New Gloucester told his wish granter Vicki Parker (left) that he would like a room renovation, which will be made possible because of generous donations to Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Season of Wishes campaign. Norton Lights, recently featured in The Weekly Sentinel, was also a major contributor to the overall success of the campaign. (Courtesy photo)