The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Indiana had its second Annual Woman's Luncheon last week at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis. Emceed by WISH-TV 8 anchor/reporter Joy Du-mandan, the keynote address was given by former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon who talked about Communities Building Community.
Brazil resident Teresa Bradley, who is the Clay County Make-A-Wish representative, was one of two featured speakers. She talked about Natalie Lowdermilk and her wish for a room makeover.
The 15-year-old Clay City High School freshman was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, last November. She shared a room with her sister, Emily. The girls were very close and Natalie wanted the new room as much for her sister as for herself.
The wish was granted July 23 and Natalie died July 27. She did get to see the makeover, however, with its bright, cheery colors and designs. And Emily continues to enjoy the warm atmosphere of her special room and can feel the love of her sister there.
Emily and her mother, Cindy Lowdermilk, were at the Make-A-Wish luncheon to help share Natalie's story with the crowd of 235 patrons and supporters.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is not just for kids with a terminal illness. To qualify for the program a child must be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness but a full recovery is wished for by the wish granters and many children do survive. The child must be an Indiana resident and cannot have previously received a wish from any wish granting organization.
Children may be referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by medical professionals treating the child, such as doctors, nurses, social workers or child-life specialists, a parent or legal guardian, teachers, relatives, friends or the potential wish child himself.
After a child is referred, the primary physician is provided the medical criteria to qualify the child for a wish. The doctor makes a determination based on the child's medical history, diagnosis, response to treatment and prognosis.
Based on the physician's assessment, they will qualify the child as medically eligible for a wish. About 80 to 85 percent of the wishes are for a Disney World trip. But other wishes have included meetings with various celebrities, a tree house, a log cabin, living out a career dream and swimming with dolphins. The average time to complete a wish is six to eight months.