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11 Things You Might Not Know About Make-A-Wish

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Since being formed in 1980, the Phoenix-based Make-A-Wish Foundation has become synonymous with fostering goodwill toward children with serious illnesses. Anyone under the age of 18 can petition the organization with a request for a trip, celebrity visit, or other special arrangement. In almost all cases, they’ll grant the child’s wish via fundraising efforts and the generosity of volunteers. An average of one wish is granted every 35 minutes

Take a look at 11 other facts that help illustrate how these donors and good samaritans can give an ailing child a reason to smile.

1. THE FIRST MAKE-A-WISH RECIPIENT GOT THREE WISHES.

Make-A-Wish began in the spring of 1980, when officers at Arizona’s Department of Public Safety learned that 7-year-old leukemia patient Chris Greicius longed to experience what it was like to be a police officer. After seeing how happy it made Greicius to wear a uniform and go on patrol, Arizona DPS officer Frank Shankwitz and his fellow officers started the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help others like him.

In 1981, Poncho “Bopsy” Salazar became the first child granted a wish under their banner. Like Greicius, he was a 7-year-old with leukemia; the Foundation arranged for Salazar to hop on a fire truck, visit Disneyland, and take a ride in a hot air balloon. The story received national coverage and led to a number of chapters opening up around the country.

2. SORRY, BUT THEY WON’T TAKE YOU HUNTING.

Make-A-Wish tries to do everything in its collective power to fulfill the dreams of kids with life-threatening illnesses, but they draw the line at one request: They can’t take anyone hunting. Since 2000, the company has prohibited their funds or volunteers from facilitating a hunting trip, citing safety concerns and protests from animal rights organizations. In 1996, the Foundation was criticized for helping a teenager realize his dream to shoot and kill a Kodiak bear in Alaska. The organization also draws the line at any wish involving firearms.

3. HALF OF ALL WISHES INVOLVE DISNEY.

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While children have a variety of wishes they’d like granted, the Mouse seems to take up a large part of their ambitions. According to Make-A-Wish, Disney’s theme parks, princesses, and other properties make up approximately half of all wishes granted. Through 2015, that means more than 100,000 Disney-related requests were fulfilled.

4. ONE KID WANTED TO STAR IN A GODZILLA MOVIE.

In 2014, a 5-year-old boy named Maddex came to the attention of the Chicago chapter of Make-A-Wish for wishing to destroy the city. To accommodate him, a film crew was assembled that allowed Maddex to dress up as Godzilla (or “Madzilla”) and stomp all over a tiny replica of the skyline. The five-minute film was estimated to cost roughly $1 million in expenses and donated time.

5. THEY SEND KIDS TO THE SUPER BOWL EVERY YEAR.

Seats for the Super Bowl can be nearly impossible to come by, but Make-A-Wish’s relationship with the NFL means many wishers get VIP access to the stadium. The organizations have collaborated every year since 1982 to make sure at least one is in attendance; 13 kids attended Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco last year.

6. SOME KIDS DONATE THEIR WISHES TO OTHERS.

There’s no binding legalese that says a Make-A-Wish recipient has to keep a wish to themselves. When 12-year-old Lucas Hobbs became eligible for a wish after being diagnosed with stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he decided to use it to pay back the Minnesota hospital that took care of him while he was undergoing chemotherapy. He had a food truck park outside the facility and took orders from patients who wanted something a little more tasty than the standard-issue hospital fare. He even named a hot dog after his favorite staff member, calling it a “Perkins dog”after his oncologist, Dr. Joanna Perkins.

7. ONE KID’S WISH GOT A LITTLE OUT OF HAND.

In 1989, 7-year-old Craig Shergold pleaded with Atlanta-based Wish Foundation International to assist him with his goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for most get well cards received. Within a year, he garnered over 16 million cards—and it never quite stopped. The flow of letters and correspondence continued unabated, with chain letters urging others to forward mail to Shergold expressing moral support for his struggle with a brain tumor. Make-A-Wish was forced to set up a special hotline to inform the public that they had no involvement in the movement, which went on to top 100 million cards. In 1999, a healthy Shergold asked people to stop. To this day, the Foundation has a page warning that any mail intended for Shergold is forwarded to a recycling center.

8. YOU CAN DONATE TO HELP FULFILL SPECIFIC WISHES.

For decades, Make-A-Wish accepted financial donations without necessarily earmarking the funds for any specific purpose; donors wouldn’t be sure which wish was funded by their generosity. In 2016, the Foundation introduced Wishmaker, an online fundraising portal that allows donors to read personalized stories about wishers and donate funds to help them meet their goal. The Foundation is hoping that individualized projects may help in covering the uptick in wish-related expenses, which now average $10,130, up 30 percent from 2010.

9. JOHN CENA IS A M-A-W LEGEND.

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It’s surprising professional wrestler John Cena has any time to train or take bumps in a World Wrestling Entertainment ring. The sports entertainer granted his 500th wish in 2015, becoming the first celebrity to cross that milestone in the Foundation’s history. (Justin Bieber comes in second, with over 250 wishes to meet him granted.)

10. MACY’S HAS DONATED OVER $100 MILLION.

Make-A-Wish relies heavily on the generosity of donors in order to keep the wishes coming. Retail giant Macy’s has done more than their share, donating over $100 million since 2003. Make-A-Wish estimates that their contributions have directly impacted more than 13,000 kids.

11. THERE’S ONE OTHER THING THEY JUST CAN’T DO.

Virtually anything a child can fantasize about is open for discussion, but Make-A-Wish draws one other hard line beyond their no-hunting-or-firearms mandate: You cannot make a wish for unlimited wishes.  

If you’d like to learn more about Make-A-Wish or volunteer your time and support, visit Make-A-Wish.com.

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You Could Be Donating to Charity Every Time You Open a New Tab
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Tab for a Cause

Opening up a million browser tabs on your desktop is hard on your computer, but could be good for non-profits. A web app by Gladly, an ad network focused on giving users more power over the ads they see, collects money for charities every time you open a new tab.

Tab for a Cause (which we spotted through Fast Company) is a browser extension that trades a few milliseconds of your attention for money that then goes to nonprofits around the world. When you use the site to navigate to websites, Tab for a Cause earns money from their advertisers (there are two ads on the bottom right-hand corner of the website). The company then funnels a portion of that money to a pre-selected group of nonprofits. With the help of those few extra ads, each tab you open raises between 1/10 and 1/3 of a cent for charity.

The app turns opening new tabs and raising money for good causes into a bit of a game. When you invite friends or run Google searches through Tab for a Cause, you earn "hearts" that help you get to different levels of being "a tabber." Then, you can donate these hearts to the charity of your choice, including Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, and Water.org. You can team up with your friends to compare earnings and see who's doing the most good with their online activity.

Tab for a Cause landing page with widgets for social media sites
Tab for a Cause

However, you do have to navigate to new tabs using the Tab for a Cause screen. Clicking on a link in this article, for instance, won’t count—because you aren’t seeing that Tab for a Cause advertising. Those one or two extra clicks could be worth some real money for a nonprofit, though, so it’s a good deed.

Tab for a Cause works on Chrome and Firefox.

[h/t Fast Company]

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How a 98-Year-Old Widower Gives Back to His Town
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Leo Kellner is living proof that you’re never to old to pick up a new hobby, lift the spirits of others, or bounce back after a tragedy. As TODAY reports, the 98-year-old from Hastings, Nebraska, bakes homemade desserts for members of his community—a pastime he adopted after losing his wife of 72 years.

Kellner’s wife passed away from dementia-related complications in 2012. The widower needed an outlet for his grief, so he took to the kitchen. Kellner’s mother had taught him to bake when he was a boy, and these childhood culinary lessons served as inspiration for a new passion project: making sweet treats for the needy.

In the first year following his wife’s death, Kellner made 144 apple pies. He donated the desserts to struggling individuals or families, whom he connected with through funeral homes and local groups. A year later, the home chef added cakes to the mix, according to KHGI Nebraska TV.

Today, Kellner bakes hundreds of desserts a year. His specialties include apple, cherry, and a sugar-free peach-apple-cherry pie; and chocolate, yellow, German chocolate, and angel food cakes. Since everyone’s tastes—and health needs—are different, Kellner makes custom treats for individual recipients. In addition to selecting flavors they’ll like, Kellner will bake fruit-based, sugar-free pies for diabetics, or take allergies into consideration while selecting ingredients.

Kellner bakes for the sick and mourning, but he also gives desserts to friends, acquaintances, hospice workers who cared for his wife, and even strangers—simply because it puts a smile on their faces, The Hastings Tribune reports. Ingredient costs are low, thanks to supermarket discounts and donations, so the senior is never forced to charge for his treats. His only requirement is that recipients swing by his home to pick up their freshly baked goods in person.

Kellner mostly works alone. However, he does have arthritis in his right hand, so he sometimes needs a little help in the kitchen. Occasionally, the senior’s part-time caretaker will help him frost cakes. But most of the time, Kellner is the one doing the helping—whether he’s teaching neighbors’ children to cook, baking a wedding cake for a friend, or whipping up a homemade dessert simply to make someone smile.

“I try to help everybody I can,” Kellner told the Tribune last year. “It makes me feel happy. God left me here for a reason and this is why I think he did. How many other 97-year-olds can do what I’m doing?”

With the right support, any dream is possible. Discover One Saturday to Dream Fearlessly from American Family Insurance, a traveling celebration of the amazing things that happen when we come together to support, protect and inspire dreams in our communities. Learn more here.

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