Make-A-Wish Central New York is changing its donation strategy due to the coronavirus

For the past 15 years, Sugarman’s annual law firm Wish Ball has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Make-a-Wish Central New York.

After COVID-19 restrictions forced the Black Tie gala to be canceled last year, the nonprofit had to shift its donation strategy to continue to fulfill life-changing wishes for critically ill children and their families.

The month-long Wish Heroes campaign is entirely online. Donations are made through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Backers can start a donation page or donate to others through their Wish Hero pages.

The aim of the campaign is to raise $ 50,000 by World Wish Day, April 29th.

“While COVID stopped the world, it didn’t stop kids from getting sick,” said Diane Kupperman, president and CEO of Make-a-Wish Central New York. “You can be a hero to wish children who need your help now more than ever.”

Approximately 200 critically ill children across the 15 counties served by Make-a-Wish Central New York await requests. While travel requests are out of the question for the time being, other requests such as play structures, cool campers and visits to the reptile zoo are still in progress.

At the start, two Make-a-Wish families shared their stories to explain how effective it can be to grant a wish.

Ryan Schmidt and his 13 year old son Caden, both from Auburn, shared the story of their trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa via Make-a-Wish. Caden had granted his wish when he was 7 years old and he was being treated for a malignant brain tumor called medulloblastoma.

“His immediate response was that he wanted to see cheetahs in the wild. You were his favorite animal and had been for a long time. He wanted to experience that. So they went and said we’ll see what we can do. And we continued our treatments, ”said Schmidt about his son. The family was allowed to meet and interact with a live New Year’s Eve cheetah and go on a safari to ride elephants and see rhinos in the wild.

Caden has been cancer-free for five years.

“We know times are tough. Anything that can be given is helpful in helping a child have the kind of experiences no one ever wants, and it helps to open them up and give them something to look forward to ” said Schmidt.

Katie Green, also from Auburn, spoke on behalf of her daughter Alayah, whose desire brought her family to Disney World. Green was torn when he told her story.

“Make-a-Wish is where your heart is, this is what drives you,” Green said of her daughter. “And she makes sure that other children receive their wishes.”

Both Green and Schmidt emphasized that at the receiving end of a wish, they feel like paying it forward. Make-a-Wish takes care of everything so that the family doesn’t have to worry about details and can enjoy a much-needed break during a difficult time.

“It ensures that the magic is still there without being physically able to bring that magic to families,” said Green.

Visit to learn more about the fundraiser.

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