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Make-A-Wish grants 88 state wishes this year

Make-A-Wish South Dakota granted 88 wishes to children with critical illnesses this fiscal year, September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019.

This is the largest number of wishes ever granted in South Dakota. Fiscal Year 2018 saw 80 wishes granted, and 2017 saw 72. Local chapters also helped with five wishes of youth not from South Dakota who wanted to visit here.

“Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness,” said Sue Salter, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota.

Make-A-Wish serves children between the ages of 2½ and 18 who are battling a critical illness.

A regional breakdown of the 88 wishes granted this fiscal year includes:

Black Hills area: 13 wishes

Central/Pierre area: two wishes

Aberdeen area: eight wishes

Watertown/northeast area: nine wishes

Mitchell/Huron area: 10 wishes

Vermillion/Yankton area: five wishes

Sioux Falls/Brookings area: 38 wishes

South central/southwest area: three wishes

“A wish experience creates an opportunity for hope and the ability to experience life beyond illness,” said Salter. “In the fight against a critical illness, each wish serves as a catalyst for renewed strength and encouragement for every child and family on their journey.”

Some of the wishes included:

Braydan, who has a brain tumor, is one of the three 2½-year-old children. He said, “I wish to have a shopping spree.”

Bennett, also 2½-years-old, has a genetic disorder; he wished to go to Captiva Island, FL.

“I wish to go see Paw Patrol live, said 2 ½ year old Tucker, who has cancer.

“I wish to have a bedroom makeover,” said Henry (2 ½), who has leukemia.

Fighting a congenital condition, Saige (2 ½) wanted to go to the Walt Disney World.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Justin (16), who had an end-stage kidney disease, wanted to go to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

To have an icehouse was the wish of 17-year-old Mason, who has an autoimmune disorder.

“I wish to be a Florida Gators softball player,” said Aryonna (17) who has a congenital heart disease.

More than 260 volunteers across the state play key roles in meeting with qualified children to determine their wish.

Gina Hopkins, chair of Make-A-Wish South Dakota Board of Directors, is also a wish-granting volunteer.

“Nothing is more powerful than being part of a wish experience,” said Hopkins, “for donors, volunteers, medical professionals and entire communities.”

“A child’s imagination is at the heart of everything we accomplish together,” said Hopkins. “Along with that imagination comes the strength to be resilient, the strength to unify a community, the strength to find hope. A wish-come-true empowers and transforms the lives of anyone who plays a part.”

Each granting process starts with a wish referral from someone close to the youth — someone on the medical care team, a parent or other relative. Make-A-Wish South Dakota strives to find and grant the wish of every eligible child in the state.

Since its founding in 1984, Make-A-Wish South Dakota has granted 1,472 wishes. For more information, visit southdakota.wish.org.