Make-A-Wish Oklahoma grants childhood dreams and medical triumphs
By JoMarie Ramsey
In the heart of Oklahoma, a wonderful organization known as Make-A-Wish brings hope, joy and healing to children battling critical illnesses. Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, a chapter of the national foundation serving the entire state, has made dreams come true for these brave kids for several years. Last year, two children in Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s service territory had their wishes fulfilled due to a large donation from The OEC Foundation.
“One of the driving forces behind our success is the donations from organizations,” said Erin Nantois, Make-a-Wish Oklahoma’s director of philanthropy. “Their support and collaboration profoundly impact the lives of countless wish children and their families.”
The Impact: The OEC Foundation’s support is evident through the stories of wish children like Austin and Tallyn. Austin, a five-year-old boy with high-risk stage 4 neuroblastoma, comes from a large, loving family, Nantois said. With the OEC Foundation’s help, Make-A-Wish Oklahoma provided Austin and his family the opportunity to create lasting memories during a challenging time.
“The light at the end of the tunnel was something that Austin and our family focused on during these difficult days when hope seemed out of reach,” said Austin’s mother, Joyce.
Tallyn, a young girl battling Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, eagerly awaited her wish experience for over two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Nantois said. With the support of the OEC Foundation, Tallyn, a big fan of all things princesses, lived out her dreams at Disney World, met her favorite Disney princesses and enjoyed an unforgettable trip with her family.
“I don’t think I realized just how big of an impact it would be,” said Tallyn’s mother, Karin. “I knew a Disney trip would be amazing, but I don’t think I realized just how magical and healing it would be for our entire family.”
The Healing Power of Wishes: Research has shown that children with something positive to look forward to, such as a wish experience, exhibit improved compliance with treatments, better emotional well-being and even enhanced physical health, Nantois said.
“By providing hope and a tangible goal, wishes contribute to the overall well-being of these resilient children,” Nantois said. “We have seen it time and again, children with a wish to look forward to improve not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.”
Following the fulfillment of their child’s wish, 94% of parents observed remarkable enhancements in their child’s emotional well-being, according to Make-a-Wish Foundation’s 2022 Impact Report. The effect was so profound that 91% of parents believed the granted wish contributed to their child’s improved chances of overcoming their illness. As a testament to the transformative power of wishes, a striking 91% of parents regarded the wish experience as an essential component of their child’s medical treatment.
Operation Round Up: Since 1997, donations from generous members who round up their monthly bills have funded more than $51,000 in donations to Make-a-Wish Oklahoma, helping more than 60 children in our service territory.
“It is so special to have these community partnerships,” said Education & Outreach Programs Director Tory Tedder-Loffland. “Seeing the direct impact of our members’ and employees’ donations on these families reminds us of why we do what we do.”
Collaboration and Fundraising: As Director of Philanthropy, Nantois focuses on fundraising to support the organization’s mission. Through grant writing, corporate partnerships and community engagement, Make-A-Wish Oklahoma raises funds to grant wishes and provide vital support to families.
“Every donation means more wishes granted, which clears the way for more kids to come down,” Nantois said. “It clears the way for the 300 waiting children behind them.”
Get Involved! Volunteer Opportunities and Community Engagement: Make-A-Wish Oklahoma understands the importance of community involvement and the power of volunteers, Nantois said. Programs like “Kids for Wish Kids” enable high school students to organize fundraisers and contribute to granting wishes locally, Nantois said. College students can join the “Wishmakers on Campus” club, while young professionals can participate in the Young Professionals Council. These opportunities allow individuals to give back to their community while building meaningful connections.
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