A non-profit with the goal of making the wishes of sick and recovering children come true is finding itself in a unique time of uncertainty.
Make-A-Wish Oklahoma is trying to rearrange travel for some families while also making other non-travel wishes come true during the pandemic. Kiyana Dan, director of mission and service for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, tells us the families they serve have postponed their trips to places like Disney World and Lego Land because their children do not fully have the ability to fight off the virus. “Many of them still have weak immune systems after going through intensive treatment, and some still have respiratory illnesses that will only be exacerbated by COVID,” Dan says.
Many amusement parks across the country remain closed, and airline partners have extended the travel vouchers Make-A-Wish uses for two years so families do not feel rushed to carry out their wish.
“We don’t expect our families to be the first ones in when the parks reopen,” Dan admits. “We still need to study the health precautions and things we need to do to keep our families and their most vulnerable safe.”
Depending on a child's illness, some of the COVID treatments and vaccines being developed may not be able to be taken by some children depending on the risks. Make-A-Wish has been carrying out wishes like linking up children with celebrities over the internet and carrying out virtual shopping sprees on Amazon.
Dan saying families are telling their children to be patient just a little longer, and their wishes are still going to be granted. Make-A-Wish received a Paycheck Protection Program loan so they didn’t have to lay off any staff, change their structure, and alter services at this time.
However, PPP does not cover donations that have noticeably slowed down during the pandemic.
The organization also had to cancel one of its biggest spring fundraisers in April while everyone sheltered at home.
Make-A-Wish is asking supporters, staff, and donors to put a blue paper star in a front room window of their home to show any child passing by who has a wish pending that their wish will still come true in the future.
Make-A-Wish has put all trips on hold until at least August 31. At that time they will re-evaluate their ability to grant travel wishes