by Morey Storck
On April 8 the first of four 30th Anniversary Celebration Fundraisers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Hudson Valley Chapter will be held at The Tarrytown Music Hall. The benefit concert of Broadway show music will present headlining performers who have appeared in starring or featured roles in recent Broadway musical theatre productions.
These four signature events sponsored by Make-A-Wish will help grant current wishes for more than 150 local and Hudson Valley children with life-threatening medical conditions. The annual Wish Ball will be held on May 13 at Tappan Hill Mansion; on August 30 golfers will tee off at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club; and on October 30, hundreds will converge at FDR State Park for the 11th Annual Walk/Run for Wishes.
“Frank and Friends,” at the Tarrytown Music Hall, will be top-billed by legendary Broadway composer and songwriter Frank Wildhorn. As a pop songwriter, he is probably best known for Whitney Houston’s number one international hit “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” In 1999, Wildhorn became the first composer to have three Broadway musicals running on Broadway simultaneously: Jekyll and Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War. Appearing with Wildhorn will be Rob Evan (Jekyll and Hyde, Les Miserables, Disney’s Tarzan); Jeremy Jordan (Newsies, Rock of Ages, Bonnie and Clyde) and Laura Osnes (Grease, Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde).
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in the United States in 1980, arranges experiences described as “wishes” to children (two and a half to 18) with life-threatening medical conditions. It grants wishes in all of its 61 chapters located throughout the U.S. The foundation also operates in 45 countries around the world through 38 affiliate offices.
Thomas J. Conklin, President and CEO of the Hudson Valley Chapter, stated that since the chapter was established in 1986, it has helped 2,433 wishes come true for children in the Hudson Valley counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester and Delaware. 150 wishes, at different stages, are pending. Conklin emphasized that “the mission is not just for terminally ill kids, but for all those with life-threatening conditions, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” He also noted that, currently, wishes now average between $7,500 and $10,000 for family travel and accommodations, meals and other trip expenses. That’s why these annual benefits are so important. Additionally, he is proud of the fact that 80% of all incoming funds go directly to the kids.
Once a child has been referred by a parent or treating physician and considered qualified, a team of trained “wish granters” is sent to meet with the family and the recipient to determine what the wish will be. That selection is an interesting process as Denise D’Amico, VP of Program Services, explained it. “First, the most appropriate time to grant the wish is established, keeping in mind the child’s treatment protocol among other concerns. When that is set, most wish requests fall into five categories: I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, I wish to have, or I wish to give. Actually, before the wish selection takes place, Make-A-Wish trained counselors work closely with the family and family physician to understand the recipient’s level of physical and emotional realities, what their favorite activity is, their favorite candy, their favorite subject in school.”
The interviewer then asks the child to pick two wishes from the categories listed. All the wishes are put into a container, and after being shuffled, two are selected. Eventually, it’s narrowed to one. Approximately 120 wishes are granted each year for the eight counties served. Here are three examples of wishes granted in our area.
Bianca M. – Hometown, Sleepy Hollow. Her wish was to go to Disneyland, California. She was nine years old. Bianca turned 21 this past fall and is graduating from college. She is a singer and songwriter.
Mary Z. – Hometown, Sleepy Hollow. Her wish was to go to Disney World, Florida. She was age 5 when her wish was granted. She is now 12.
Neda M. – Hometown, Irvington. Neda is a recent recipient. She is 13. Her wish was also Disney World. Happily, included in her wish, was the chance to enjoy it with her sister who lives in Croatia.
Tickets for the April 8 Make-A-Wish Tarrytown Music Hall event range from $35 to $175 and can be ordered by calling 877-840-0457 or by visiting www.tarrytownmusichall.org.