For over 22 years I was a Wish Grantor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It’s a little like being a fairy Godmother. All the wish children had a life threatening illness. Believe me … when you look into the eyes of a young child and ask, “If you had one wish, what would it be?” and they share their last wish … It puts this whole goofy thing we call Life in perspective.
Katherine was a seven year old girl who ran her world and everyone around her from her motorized wheelchair. A form of spinal dysfunction had her limited to her chair yet that didn’t limit Katherine’s ability to shine her love of life to anyone who came into her circle.
I was assigned to interview her and her parents at their home. For a younger Wish child, you are usually greeted at the door and introduced gently to the child by the parents and the child stays close by. At times, the parents will attempt to interpret what the child is trying to say. Not the case with Katherine. She met me at the door and when I stepped inside she whirled her chair around and said or should I say ordered, “Follow me!”
I looked at her mother as Katherine whizzed past with an “Is this OK?” look. And she gave me a “You better do what she says” look. Katherine was about to leave me behind so I picked up the pace. She wanted to show me her room on the main floor of their home which was adapted for her special needs. She was excited to share all the stories and every little detail about what was important in her world. It was a flurry of information and without skipping a beat, “What’s in the bag, is that for me?” “Uh, well yeah”. The Make-A-Wish office would put together a Wish bag to give to the Wish kids and inside were coloring books and other gifts. As she dug in, Katherine found a fingernail polish kit and wanted her fingernails polished. She held out her hand like, “Make yourself useful.” That was a first for me. It was a bit of a challenge under her watchful scrutiny, yet we got the job done. She had a special sparkle and energy I will never forget.
Katherine’s wish was to go to Disney World with her family. The day came for her big wish and we had arranged for a limousine to take her and her family to the airport. She was pretty fired up when this big white limousine that was about a block long pulled up in front of the house. I had given her a very sparkly wand to take on her trip. As I said goodbye and was closing the door to the limo, she waved her wand and said, “Watch out Cinderella, there’s a new princess in town!”
Brian O’Malley, CSP
Adventurer, Motivational Speaker, Executive Coach