No family wants their kid to need a wish, but when illness strikes, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants them. You’ve likely seen real-life wishes come true on the news—children battling a life-threatening sickness get a dream vacation to Disney World or a visit with their favorite sports hero—but a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into making this happen. Communities across the country raise money to fund these wishes during “Wish Week,” and it turns out Make-A-Wish Colorado is the number-one ranked chapter nationwide, with more than $940,000 raised in 2017.
Leading the effort is Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch and its feeder schools Mountain Ridge Middle School and Summit View Elementary School. In the last week of January 2017, the three schools pulled in a national record of $127,700 during during “Wish Week,” a one-week, annual fund-raising push by schools all across the U.S.
Five years ago, when Mountain Vista student leadership decided to make participating in Make-A-Wish Colorado’s Wish Week event part of its philanthropic efforts, the teens helped raise $5,000. After inviting the faculty and students from the middle and elementary schools in the area to join their cause, local businesses and community members jumped in and the donation totals began to skyrocket. The total more than doubled to $12,000 in year two, up to $62,000 in year three, and $94,000 last year. “This year our goal (for Wish Week) was $100,000, which had never been done before,” says Lindsey Miller, the student leadership advisor at Mountain Vista. “[The donations] just kept coming and people really bought in. Everyone just rallied together.”
An average wish costs about $7,500 in cash to grant, and Mountain Vista’s 2017 fundraising haul supported 17 wishes—bringing the total in five years to more than 40 wishes. Sure the cash totals are impressive, but the high school community got to experience first-hand what it’s like to actually grant a wish when Kenyan, a four-year-old boy from Colorado Springs who suffers from Sickle Cell, had his wish to be a super hero brought to life during Wish Week 2017. Miller says the high school’s students and faculty created a theatrical event where he completed missions throughout the school and, in the end, saved the day.
The Mountain Vista community, including the feeder schools, is getting a special day of their own next week: Make-A-Wish Colorado and Elitch Gardens are partnering to treat 3,500 students and faculty to a free day at the park to spend with local Make-A-Wish families. We’ll call that good karma.