If you could have one wish, what would it be? To be younger, richer, better looking, to have a better job?
Adults have active imaginations, but what if you are between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18 and have a life-threatening illness? How big would your wish be?
Abigail wants to go to Disney World. Joshua wants to take his whole family to Disney World, including five kids and two adults! Ben wants his bedroom to be made over with a basketball theme.
Make-A-Wish has been making wishes come true since 1980 when a sick little boy in Phoenix, Ariz., told his family and friends he would really like to be state trooper for a day.
He was given his own uniform and got to spend the day with his heroes, the Arizona State Police.
The response was overwhelming and, as they say, the rest is history.
In 1983, Indiana Make-A-Wish opened its doors. More than 1,600 wishes have been granted in the past 23 years, 17 in Clay County and 222 across the state in fiscal year 2004-05.
Now, it's Ben Durcholz's turn.
Ben's mom, Annette, approached The Brazil Times in April, wanting the newspaper to help parents of MPS victims identify the illness and find support. MPS is a family of diseases that dramatically shorten a child's life span.
When the Durcholz family's story was published on April 17, it was read by Teresa Bradley, a Make-A-Wish volunteer. She approached the paper, wanting to enlist our help in making Ben's wish come true.
Teresa is a regular reader of The Brazil Times. In fact, Teresa learned of the Make-A-Wish program through The Brazil Times. An advertisement in American Profile a magazine carried inside The Brazil Times each Saturday, caught her eye in May, 2003.
Although people may think Make-A-Wish only grants wishes for terminally ill children, that is not the case. Any child with a life-threatening illness is eligible.
The families Teresa works with make her marvel and reinforces her faith.
"I've seen retarded children with no religious training talk about God before they die," she said. "What's up with that?"
But even the terminally ill children don't look at their illnesses as terminal. They have lived their entire lives knowing nothing else.
Make-A-Wish volunteers don't look at children as being terminally ill, either.
"We don't look at death, but the days of joy we can give them," Teresa said.
She stressed the children who are not facing premature death. Of 27 children she has worked with in west central Indiana, only two have died, but all have received their greatest wishes.
When Teresa sat down with Ben, after receiving his parents' permission, his greatest wish was for a basketball-themed bedroom.
In Teresa's mind, it already exists.
One end will be a basketball court complete with goals and bleachers and the other end will be a mini-McDonald's activity center.
Teresa needs help.
Donors are needed for the following items:
- Three 2-by-10-by-8 boards
- Six sections of 4-by-8, 1/2-inch plywood
- One junior and one adult basketball hoop
- Lockers have already been donated
- Balls have been donated, but more are needed. These cannot be real basketballs, but soft, Nerf-type balls of various sizes.
- One 2-by-6-by-8 board for a bench in front of the lockers
- McDonald's golden arches -- any size will do
- A plastic Ronald McDonald - full-size, preferably.
- A cluster table from a McDonald's restaurant
- Paint: chalkboard paint, several colors of paint (Ben's favorite color is orange) and wood stain
- Sports banners
- Coloring books, crayons and kids books (any subject)
Teresa also hopes people will donate their time and energy.
Make-A-Wish needs more volunteers in Indiana. There should be three or four volunteers in Clay County, but Teresa is the only one, so far. Vigo County needs many more volunteers, too.
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