Resources and information for parents of children with cancer . . . by parents of children with cancer.

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About Make-A-Wish and List of Wish Organizations

One wonderful experience which most cancer children and families have is a "Wish" granted by a wish-granting organization. The wish is just about anything the child desires: a trip for the family to Disney World, a trip to Hawaii, meeting their favorite celebrity, a new computer system, a re-do of their bedroom - all of these are only examples of granted wishes. The granting of the wish gives the child and the family a well-needed break from all that they are going through.

Who decides the Wish?

The child. And only the child! The grantors will discuss the wish in a careful interview with the child to make sure that it is their idea and not their parents' idea.

Who is eligible for a Wish?

Eligibility varies slightly from organization to organization, and each chapter of the larger organizations sets its own rules as to age, "seriousness of the disease", and what type of wishes will be granted. Commonly, children aged 3 through 18 are granted wishes.

The "seriousness of the disease" issue is not quite as clear. Most organizations and chapters of organizations require a doctor's statement that the disease is "life threatening". The doctor is the only person who can make this determination. Some organizations require a doctor's statement of "terminal" rather than just "life threatening", although this is the exception rather than the rule. If your local organization falls in this latter class, search around for another one.

Some parents of children with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) have been told by their local wish organization that their child will not be granted a wish because the disease is not "serious" enough. If this happens to your family, first find out whether the organization requires "life-threatening" or "terminal", then find out what the doctor wrote on the application. Then, follow through: your child deserves a Wish!

Who initiates the Wish process?

A parent or guardian must initiate the process by contacting the wish granting organization (this is true for Make A Wish; the others probably have a similar rule). Your hospital social worker, child life specialist, or Candlelighters parents consultant will probably approach you and tell you which wish-granting organization does the wishes in your area, and give you the information on how to contact them. If they do not approach you with the information or give it to you if asked, either because they are too busy (!!) or because they have made their own judgment as to whether or not your child is "worthy", you are quite free to contact the wish organization yourself. Wish organizations do not accept a contact from friends or from other family members.

What next?

Paperwork is filled out by the organization and sent to the child's physician for certification. It is not the business of the wish-organization to diagnose illnesses, and the system of getting a doctor's certification works very well. In the words of Anne S., who is a cancer parent now volunteering for Make A Wish as a wish-grantor: "If people in your area find that any particular diagnosis is being excluded it is because the doctors have decided not to sign off for it. In my personal opinion, a ped-onc who would argue that any form of leukemia is not life-threatening has either discovered a miracle cure he's not sharing with the rest of us, or should turn in his Montgomery Ward medical diploma and go drive a truck."

And then?

Your family will be visited by a wish-grantor (more paperwork!) and details of the wish and special medical needs which need to be met during the wish will be discussed. Then they do all the work, and your child (and you) just sits back and enjoys!


Special: Donate a car to Wheels for Wishes. A way to get rid of old vehicles and have the proceeds donated to Make-A-Wish! Details at the Wheels for Wishes site.

Wish Granting Organizations

Challenge Air

Challenge Air for Kids and Friends, a not-for-profit organization, offers motivational, inspirational and life-changing experiences to physically challenged children and youth through aviation. They take children up in small planes and allow them to steer the plane for a few minutes. They visit different cities. See the Challenge Air web site for details.

The Dream Factory, Inc.

The Dream Factory, Inc.
National Headquarters
1218 South Third Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40203
1-800-456-7556 1-502-637-8700
1-502-637-8744 - Fax

The Dream Factory has chapters across the States; it began in Kentucky. It grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses or who are chronically ill. The web link above is for the national headquarters and it lists local chapters.

The web page for the Kansas City chapter is informative::
The Dream Factory of Greater Kansas City

Here is the contact for another chapter:
The Children's Dream Factory of Maine
Lynn Roy or Skip Welch
400 U.S. Rte. 1 Falmouth, ME 04105
207-781-3406 or 1-800-456-7556

Make A Wish Foundation of America

National Office
Cell: 602-626-4223 | Fax: 602-279-0855
4742 N. 24th St., Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85016-4862
(602) 279-WISH or 1-800-722-WISH (9474)

Grants wishes to children under the age of 18 with life-threatening illnesses. The main web site will direct you to the contact (and/or web site) of the chapter nearest you.

Marty Lyons Foundation

326 West 48th Street
New York, New York 10036
phone 212-977-9474
fax 212-977-1752

Chapters in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida provide a special wish to children ages 3 to 17 who are terminally ill or have a chronic life-threatening disease.

Memories of Love

4932 Sunbeam Road
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Phone:  (904)596-2789
Toll Free:  (800)625-1566
Email: info@memoriesoflove.org

Memories of Love provides Orlando respite vacations for families with children ages 16 and under.

Children's Wish Foundation International

8615 Roswell Road Atlanta, PO Box 28785, Georgia 30350-7526
(800) 323-WISH
Local (770) 393-WISH
Fax (770) 393-0638

The Children's Wish Foundation will fulfill the favorite wish for any child not expected to reach 18 years of age.

Sunshine Foundation

PO Box 255
5400 County Road 547 N
Davenport, FL 33837
(863) 424-4188 or 1-800-457-1976

No geographic boundaries. Answers dreams of seriously ill, physically challenged, or abused children, ages 3 to 18.

A Wish with Wings, Inc.

917 West Sanford Street
Arlington, TX 76015
817.469.9474

Services: Grants the Wishes of Texas children with life-threatening diseases between the ages of 3–18. To be eligible to receive a Wish through a Wish with Wings, children must be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, be between the ages of 3–18, reside in or be treated in the state of Texas, and have not previously received a Wish from any wish granting organization.

The Wishing Star Foundation

Linda Lysne, Director; Sharon Johnson, Wish Coordinator
915 W. 2nd Suite B
Spokane, WA 99204
800-685-6956 or (509)744-3411
FAX: (509) 744-3414

Serves Idaho, eastern Washington, and some areas of Oregon and Nevada. Grants wishes to children 3 to 19 with life-threatening diseases.

A Special Wish Foundation

A Special Wish Foundation - National Office
2244 S. Hamilton Road, Suite 202
Columbus, OH 43232
(614)575-WISH
(800)486-WISH
FAX (614)575-1866

21 Chapters throughout the US and a chapter in Moscow, Russia. To find the chapter nearest you, phone the National Office.

The Starlight Foundation

International Headquarters
5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2530, Los Angeles, CA
90036, (323) 634-0800

Grants wishes to seriously ill children ages 4-18. Very useful is the Chapter Listing webpage.

Indiana Children's Wish Fund

317-913-WISH (9474)
FAX 317-913-9440
6435 Castleway W. Drive, Suite 130
Indianapolis, IN 46250

"The Indiana Children's Wish Fund grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses between the ages of 2 1/2 and 20. Most referrals are between 3-18 years of age. To date nearly 1200 children have received a wish from Indiana Children's Wish Fund." (Correspondence from the Executive Director 10/01.)

Children's Hopes and Dreams

Phone: (973) 361-7366 or (973) 361-7348
Fax: (908) 459-9399
280 Route 46
Dover, NJ 07801

Provides first wishes, and in some cases, second wishes to children with life threatening illnesses.

Western Wishes Foundation

Western Wishes
National Headquarters
624 W. University, Suite 236
Denton, Texas 76201
Phone (940) 898-8244
Fax (940) 382-7715

Wishes for children and youth - please see the web site for details.

Life Hunts

BADF
10540 Daystar Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
(205) 366-8415

BADF's Life Hunts was founded in 1998 to grant hunting wishes for critically ill and disabled youth age 21 and under. They have granted over 450 Life Hunts to children across the nation. Please see the web site for information.

Give Kids The World

Give Kids the World partners with wish foundations and hospitals to grant wishes for those children whose "last wish is to visit Walt Disney World and other world famous Central Florida attractions." Despite this rather ominous wording, they do grant wishes to children with 'only' "life-threatening" illnesses, although on the website they tend to use this terminology interchangeably with "terminal".

Kids Wish Network

1-888-918-9004
Note: this organization provides first wishes, funeral assistance and may consider a second wish.

Kids Wish Network grants wishes to children between the ages of 3 & 18 who are living with a life threatening illness. To medically qualify for a wish, the child's doctor must sign a form indicating that the child's condition is "life threatening." No other medical criteria, prognosis or opinion regarding life expectancy is required.

Kids Wish Network has developed a funeral assistance program to assist the families of our wish kids who have passed away, up to the age of 21 years.

Although their primary mission is to grant first wishes, although Kids Wish Network will grant second wishes determined on a case by case basis.

Kids Wish Network actively seeks out children who have "slipped through the cracks" of society; that is those without parents or other advocates. Once the wish is granted, Kids Wish Network doesn't end contact with the child. In fact, they try and maintain ongoing relationships with all of their "wish kids" and their families. Kids Wish Network accepts referrals from social service and health organizations, as well as referrals from family and friends of the sick children. If the child meets the Kids Wish Network criteria, the Network speaks with the parent/guardian and an application is mailed for them to complete. When the completed application is returned to the Kids Wish Network office and the Board of Directors reviews the information, the process begins on the wish granting.

Even though Kids Wish Network grants wishes to sick children all over the United States, they have one base of operation and that is in Oldsmar, Florida. All wishes, public relations and funding come through this administrative office. This allows them to keep their overhead on administrative expenses low, with more funds going to granting the wishes of their "wish kids."

Wishland

Similar to Give Kids the World for Southern California wishes. "Wishland partners with many wish-granting organizations from all over the world to bring families to Southern California for a cost-free, weeklong dream vacation. Families that visit Wishland must be referred by an approved wish-granting organization. Children ages 3-18, with a life-threatening condition as deemed by a medical doctor, are eligible. A memorable escape is just a phone call away. Call us at (714) 881-0349 or e-mail us at info@wishland.org  and we will refer you to a wish-granting organization in your community." (Quoted from their web site 9/04.)

New Hope for Kids Wish Program

David Joswick, Executive Director
Rosie Wilder, Wish Director
205 East State Road 436, Fern Park, FL 32730
(407) 331-3059
FAX: (407) 331-306

Orlando-based non-profit organization that grants wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses through the age of 18. They must be a resident of Florida and have not had a wish granted previously. The Wish Program also provides monthly support groups, events and community resource information. To apply, call the number above to request an application or download one from New Hope for Kids' website (linked to above).

Wish Upon a Star

California Law Enforcement
Maureen Logan, Director
PO Box 4000
Visalia, CA 93278
1.559.733.7753
1.800.821.6805

Serves children in the state of California. Nonprofit, law enforcement effort designed to grant wishes of children afflicted with high-risk and terminal illnesses.

Benefit4Kids

Benefit4Kids
8330 Jorden Rd.
Yale, MI. 48097
810-387-0454
info@benefit4kids.org

Benefit4Kids was founded in 1998 with its' primary mission to grant the outdoor wishes of children nationwide with life threatening and life limiting illnesses. We also work to involve today's children in the outdoors and the many activities it offers them.

The Outdoor Wish program has been designed to allow children through the age of 17 with debilitating conditions or terminal illnesses an opportunity to experience the outdoors in a way they would not otherwise have the chance to do. Our goal is not only to accommodate the child's wish, but to also see that at the very least part of the immediate family are included in the "wish", so that they may share the experience, creating invaluable memories together. Benefit4Kids wishes have included hunting, fishing and camping trips nationwide.

Benefit4Kids also works closely with several children's camps designed to work with injured and ill children. In working with these children's camps, Benefit4Kids will continue to assist many less fortunate children enjoy our great outdoors and help them to learn the morals and family values that are so often lacking today.

Magic Moments

c/o Children's Hospital of Alabama
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
(205) 939-9372
FAX: (205) 939-6717

Grants wishes to children 4 to 19 living or being treated in Alabama, who have chronic, life-threatening diseases, or who have severe trauma (burns, spinal cord, head trauma).

Children's Happiness Foundation

PO Box 266
Marshfield, MA 02050
(781) 837-5229
FAX: (781) 837-5229

Serves New England children ages 3 to 18 with life-threatening or chronic degenerative diseases.

The Rainbow Connection

P.O. Box 46879
Mt. Clemens, Mich. 48046-6879
contact Suzanne Jones at (810)-783-9777
FAX: (810) 783-577

Qualifications for the wish program: The wish request must be reasonable and achievable. The condition of the child must be verified by a licensed physician. The child must be between the ages of 3 and 18 years old. The child cannot have had a wish granted by any other organization.

Children's wishes usually are brought to the organization's attention by doctors, nurses or social workers who are familiar with the case and the severity of the child's illness.

Adventures for Wish Kids

http://www.afwkids.org/

Based in Ohio, this non-profit serves children with a life threatening illness and their immediate families, providing quality events for them to attend so that they have a chance to get away from the problems that they face daily.Some of the events include trips to sporting events, holiday parties with gifts for the kids, and trips to the zoo.

Horses for Hope

G-7428 N. McKinley Rd
Flushing, MI 48433-9047
phone: 810.659.2151
fax: 1.832.213.3800

"Horses For Hope is a program in Michigan that lets children with cancer and their families take riding lessons, and take guided trail rides with their families. We also have a course that teaches children who are granted horse wishes on how to care for their horses. Our big event is called "Chemo Kid Day"- it's a one day event where the children come out to our farm, go on trail rides, pet animals in our petting zoo, go through a haymaze and take the most amazing hayride around the farm and surrounding properties. The kids also get to do arts and crafts and hang out with other kids that are going throught the same thing. One nice side note is that the parents get to rely on each other for support and hand holding to get through the tough times. The best aspect of it all is that the kids get to bond with a horse, learn to communicate with it and tell it what to do, instead of always being told what to do. One could look at it as a day camp- although we don't camp out. We do have a bonfire, roast marshmallows and have lots of food."

General Disclaimer

These pages are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to render medical advice. The information provided on Ped Onc Resource Center should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you suspect your child has a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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