Curious bright blue eyes blink with gleeful wonder as a small hand reaches to grasp the menu. His name is Wyatt Taylor, he’s currently in fourth grade at Brandon Elementary School, and his favorite color is purple. His dream of flying planes for Air Force One almost came to halt, but rather than allowing leukemia to steal his youth, Wyatt is embarking on a five-day excursion to live his dream or, rather, wish.
After being diagnosed with leukemia in March 2009, Wyatt began his struggle against the disease with the staunch support of his family and friends. “It wasn’t easy,” Lacy, Wyatt’s mother, explained; besides constantly being in and out of the hospital, she had just lost her business and found out that she and her husband Michael were expecting another baby. As the community united together to bolster support and help in the battle, the Taylors were told about Wyatt’s eligibility for Make-A-Wish.
Upon hearing about Wyatt, wish-givers Jim Bechtel and Barbara Rose visited the Taylor family and began the process of granting his wish. And last week, Eric Sunny Butler, owner of Goleta’s Outback Steakhouse, sponsored Wyatt’s complimentary send-off meal for family and friends as the Taylors readied themselves for their weeklong, all inclusive trip to Disneyworld, completely covered by Make-A-Wish.
Granting wishes isn’t merely magic — though the end result is certainly quite magical — as it involves a plethora of hard work and planning. From booking flights to taking children shopping at their favorite stores, wish-givers, board members, and donations are in high demand because Make-A-Wish seeks to grant every wish that is heard.
Once a wish is received, wish-givers visit with the recipient and their family to find what exactly the child yearns for more than anything else. With the average cost of a wish hovering around $5,000, Make-A-Wish depends on support from organizations and donations in order to make a wish come true.
Even as the economy droops with the dead weight of depression, wishes are made every day as hope persists. While the Taylors prepare to embark on their vacation, Make-A-Wish is busy working on a myriad of other wishes and wrestling the various barriers which inhibit their realization. While money seems to be the chief opponent of making wishes come true, volunteers and donations, guided by the tri-county’s Make-A-Wish CEO Shanna Williams, constitute the meager yet powerful cast that truly do make wishes come true.
With wish-giver training sessions taking place from April to May, Make-A-Wish is very hopeful that a new wave of volunteers and support from the area will arrive as “wish giving is not easy.” To contact Shanna or find out more about Make-A-Wish go here.
Thankfully Wyatt’s own battle against leukemia seems to finally be over as all signs point toward a healthy recovery and a long, joy-filled life.
“We’re not a last dying wish-giver, we’re an organization of hope,” Shanna proclaimed to me as I watched Wyatt and his family share a truly bliss-filled moment together; after the countless struggles and worries that plagued such a beautiful family and their arduous passage toward recovery, it’s hard to argue that Make-A-Wish is anything but magical.