SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – No wishes canceled! That’s a promise the Make-A-Wish South Carolina Foundation plans to uphold for all its families despite the pandemic, said Vice President of Mission Advancement Amanda Osborne.
Make-A-Wish South Carolina grants wishes to children, ages 2 1/2 to 18 years old, who have been diagnosed with a critical illness all across South Carolina.
“It’s important because a wish is hope for a child. Not every family has the capacity to take their child to Disney. Especially when they’re fighting a critical illness,” Osborne said. “As you know, healthcare is incredibly expensive. So, when a family has all of their resources: the financial and emotional focused on the health of the child. We can come in, as a community- based organization, and do something wonderful.”
So the wishes aren’t canceled, but they are delayed.
Osbourne agreed that it’s sad, but it’s just not safe for any travel wishes since these children all have compromised immune systems.
Nearly 75% of wishes involve some type of travel.
Even though some places have begun to open up, the foundation won’t begin attempting to grant wishes, tentatively, until August 31.
“Just because Disney is open doesn’t mean that a wish family feels comfortable being in that crowd, or being at the airport or being any other place,” Osborne said.
Five-year-old Mac Wilson’s wish is to become a Star Wars Jedi and fight Darth Vader at Disney World’s Galaxy Edge.
Unfortunately, he and his family had planned to re-schedule their pending trip, but then they got a phone call, his mom Heather Wilson said.
“With the doctor, we made the decision that we were gonna wait. But, then on the way home, it just so happened that we had a call from Make-A-Wish saying that they had also had to place a pause on everything. So, it was perfect timing. We were able to talk with [Mac] about it and he really understood why it wasn’t the right time for us. So, we know that we’re gonna get to go. It’s just not right now,” Heather Wilson said.
Mac has a list of things he’d like to do while in Florida that include Disney World and Sea World. He’s even added in another park for one very special person.
“In Universal, there’s Harry Potter World. [Harlie Wilson] likes Harry Potter. So, I was wanting to go to Universal, so that way we can go to Harry Potter world for Sissy,” Mac Wilson said.
While the Wilson family has been counting down the days until they can go to Disney, Sonam and Brandi Sharpe have been sending support to them and other families that have had to pause their wishes.
“To all the children waiting- it’s going to be worth the wait,” Brandi Sharpe said. “It’s going to exceed even the highest expectations you have even expected up until this point.”
Last year, Make-A-Wish South Carolina granted more than 200 wishes. In October, 9-year-old Sonam Sharpe was able to have his wish granted at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World.
“We’re always trying to grant those wishes as quickly as possible and make it as special as possible. It really is difficult. It’s difficult to think about these wishes that may have been scheduled for April of 2020 and we don’t honestly know when it’s going to be safe for them to do something else,” Osborne said.
Make-A-Wish’s National Foundation has a medical task force of volunteer medical professionals, who guide the organization on how to keep families safe while granting their wishes.
Osborne said no one has any intentions of forcing a family to go on a wish trip, even after the organization’s tentative granting date.
Brandi Sharpe agrees with Make-A-Wish’s choice. She explained that having this wish is a treat for the whole family because everyone gets to feel extra special.
“I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. Like, we’ve always wanted to be together but I never could do it. You know, hidden in this situation is something because me and my bestie are together everyday,” Brandi Sharpe said.
Although Make-A-Wish South Carolina may not start granting travel wishes until August 31, Osborne said they still need volunteers and donations.
She added that some children want things like a large playhouse, or backyard pool, or something that doesn’t involve travel, so extra hands to help with set up and/or financial support are welcome.