I work in the Wish Granting department this summer. I do all of the behind the scenes stuff from scheduling flights to tracking down Dr's faxes. I've seen a lot of kids and a lot of wishes and in the process have learned tons about the organization.

If you have any questions about Make A Wish, the kids, the wishes, or myself (I know my commute has been an interesting topic for some) feel free to ask!

Edit: some people have asked how to take an active role as well. You can find your local chapter and inquire about volunteering and internship opportunities.

I don't want to be on here asking for money, but some people have inquired:

If you have some extra air miles or money, and you're considering a donation - please donate to your local chapter! It's local money going to help local kids, using local services. You can donate air miles, toys, or money. If you want to ensure your donation will be provided for a wish kid, air miles and toys will do that and donated air miles do not expire! And as always, donations are very appreciated and also tax deductible :D

Comments: 178 • Responses: 85  • Date: 

grant015 karma

  • What's the secret to getting in touch with famous people? Like, if you need Johnny Depp, I assume you have a way of contacting him that I don't. Is there a secret "publicists for celebs" database you buy a subscription to or something?

  • Do you think this is an organization worth donating to? I'll reveal my own bias here: I'd much rather donate to research fighting terminal illness, rather than give one kid a fun time. It doesn't seem like sustainable giving to me. Same reason you should give to homeless shelters, not homeless people.

jadenray6416 karma

I like these questions. They're very thought provoking.

  1. We generally go through the agent OR we have the typical connections. Someone who works in the office has a friend who knows the agent or the celebrity or something like that. We don't usually have to try hard to reach out as some celebrities are expecting organizations like us and have a channel for us. Other celebrities can be challenging to reach...

  2. The thing about Make A Wish that I think sets it apart in an appealing way is that it is local money helping local kids. Our donations come from people in the community and these donations go straight to kids inside the community. These donations also go to help support businesses that we use for the wishes. We get support and some funding from national (to the best of my knowledge), but the VAST majority of it is private donations.

Make A Wish is a little unusual because it doesn't go to help find a cure or anything like that. We don't pay for a child's treatment, for example. We are invested in bringing happiness to the family. We want to enrich their experiences. Unfortunately, a lot of these kids may not live long enough to see a cure, some of them definitely won't and all of them have been through really hard time. We want to be able to provide something for them and their family to enjoy and take their mind off of their illness.

If you're interested in investing in the future (fund a cure), but are struggling with wanting to provide things now (like Make A Wish), I would say split your donation in a way that makes you comfortable, the same way you save for the future, but still spend some for now.

grant08 karma

the same way you save for the future, but still spend some for now

This is an interesting way of looking at balancing your charitable giving, and not something I'd thought about before. Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

To clarify two things:

  • Where do you get information about what agent represents what celebrity?

  • Are you saying that each region in America has their own Make A Wish, which is only partly funded by a national body?

jadenray646 karma

We have this database (for lack of a better word) that tells us how is the best way to get into contact with various celebrities and it is provided for us by the national head of Make A Wish. It's maintained by everyone too, so it's fairly accurate.

Yes, I am :D In fact, Make A Wish is international, so each country has their own chapter as well. You can find out your local chapter here. For example, Make A Wish Mid-Atlantic serves DC, MD, and several counties in VA, but it doesn't serve Delaware or Richmond (that would be the Greater Virginia Chapter).

I'd like to add that if you are considering making a donation, please donate to your local chapter and please consider donating air miles if you have any. Donated air miles don't expire and since most wish have air travel, there's a great need for them!

Each chapter runs a little bit differently. We have our own kids and our own businesses that provide discounts (beyond those that everyone gets), etc. If a kid goes to another chapter's territory, we request a Wish Assist, at which point that chapter takes over (because they know the area better). This is probably way more information than you were looking for, sorry.

ohheyaubrie3 karma

Can you provide more information on how to donate air miles? I had no idea this could be done and have quite a few...

jadenray643 karma

Happy to!

Donated air miles never expire! And while monetary donations can buy everything, air miles ensure that your donation will be used for a wish.

ohheyaubrie6 karma

Great, thank you! I will look into this. I don't have any money to give but this is something I can definitely do.

jadenray643 karma

Thank you so much!! I have you tagged now haha :)

I know reddit's charity is something to behold and I also know that this air mile program is pretty unheard of so I'd really like to get the word out there, maybe get a little magic working.

Anniemgo3 karma

Happy to!

I did not know you could donate miles! I am going to see what airlines I have miles with and donate. I don't have enough for an entire trip… but I hope it will still help.

jadenray641 karma

It will definitely still help! Thank you so much :)

It's unfortunate that this is so unheard of. It's relatively new. My mom's miles expired as well.

jadenray641 karma

I asked and it turns out National handles all of our celebrity needs when it comes to getting in touch with them. Sometimes it's their PR, PA, or just a friend of a friend sort of thing.

dinkova11 karma

I was a recipient of a Make-A-Wish trip as a child. I had osteosarcoma at 15 and wished to go to Hawaii with my family. I have 4 brothers and sisters so we didnt have the money to tale vacations with so many kids AND one with cancer. It was the most amazing trip. we didnt have to worry about anything the whole week and it really brpughtnmy family together in that time of suffering. I can never fully express how wonderful being granted that wish was for my family and I.

jadenray644 karma

This is something that I think often goes unnoticed. Not only are we giving these kids what they want (which is most usually a family vacation), but we're also giving them a little piece of mind. It's very difficult to travel with a sick kid. You have so many worries and needs. Make A Wish covers you on those and if you go to the more popular places, the lodging is used to providing for sick kids' (very unique) needs.

I'm glad you enjoyed your time! It's stories like these and bring so much job satisfaction. I absolutely love hearing about this. I hope you are doing better!!! Osteosarcoma has caused some of the more heart wrenching cases I've worked with.

TheBigScaryBallSack10 karma

How much on average does a wish cost to grant? or is it completely free?

jadenray6410 karma

This depends if it's international travel (I'm including Hawaii as international travel). Those tend to cost 5,000$-9,000$ (the highest I've seen was 9,000$). Domestic wishes are usually 3,000$ The rules are to ask for a donation, if you can't get that, ask for a discount, if you can't get that, consider other options or go with paying full price. We get A LOT of discounts and donations - people are incredibly generous and more than willing to help! But in the end, about 97% of our wishes involve airfare and that is very expensive. You have to balance fulfilling the child's wish exactly as they want, and being able to fund other wishes. I think we're pretty good at doing that considering the complexity involved.

jadenray641 karma

I asked for a hard number, and my boss told me that it costs 7,500$ on average. This is because foreign travel is so expensive.

FindingAlaska10 karma

So you've already said Disney is the most popular wish - what percentage of kids ask for a Disney related wish, be it -world -land or cruise.

Have you ever had a really bizarre wish, or something that's made you laugh? (Not at the kid hopefully, but in general)

jadenray6415 karma

Hm.... 30% Sounds about right. I would have to ask at work - I'm sure we keep track of that kind of hard number.

I had a kid that wanted to meet Lebron James and show him how to do a layup. Not show him his layup, but show him how to do a layup. I found that hilarious.

ChaiHai7 karma

Awwww. That sounds so precious!!! Did that kid get their wish?

jadenray6412 karma

Lebron James has only done 1 wish in the last 8 years and ESPN had to pull major strings for it so no, unfortunately :/

Honestly, LeBron James and the Miami Heat in general are difficult celebrity wishes. We try to reach out to them, but they will no respond. I guess they don't want to meet any sick kids?

screwthebankiworkfor7 karma

If I had a Lebron jersey I'd be burning it right now!!

jadenray646 karma

Yeah, you kind of look at celebrities a bit differently once you see how they handle these things...

rivermist26155 karma

Which celebrities do you look at most differently now? Who are some of the nicest, and (if you're comfortable/allowed answering this) who are some of the worst?

jadenray6411 karma

Some celebrities will promise one on one interviews like 15 minutes. I understand that fame can get to someone's head. That's an understandable situation. You're super busy and you've probably seen hundreds of fans that week alone. But they shouldn't promise things they don't deliver.

Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys, and Taylor Swift can be difficult. They group the wish kids together with concert contest winners and people who paid to meet them then give the entire group 3 minutes tops. It's difficult for my boss to grab the wish kid an autograph, much less a picture. It's gotten pretty bad and parents complain so national is making us time each meet and report back.

But I mean at least they grant wishes, unlike LeBron James or the Miami Heat.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have the ones that are just incredible. The president is great because not only does he do A LOT of wishes (one a week), but he also makes a point to make the kid the center of attention.

RG3 went above and beyond recently. The interview was only supposed to last 15 minutes iirc but he insisted that the kid participate in practice and hang out ALL DAY! That family just had a blast. Even though I'm a fan of the 'Boys, I can respect something like that.

There's a chef and for the life of me I wish I could remember his name. I can't find the article anywhere. But it's another situation where it was only supposed to be 15 minutes and it was a group of wish kids meeting the celebrity. But rather than leaving after 15 minutes, he gave them all a hands on lesson for how to cook a dish.

Emily_Says3 karma

Gordon Ramsey, Bobby Flay, Bourdain, Zimmern, Lagassi, Batali, ALTON BROWN, Fieri, any of these ring a bell? I would love to know who went above and beyond!

jadenray6410 karma

Gordon Ramsey was a good celebrity wish. He really is such a considerate and kind soul. He really loves the kids. But the one I was thinking of was someone else. I'll get back to you on Monday, after I get a chance to ask my boss.

jadenray641 karma

Sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday -- traffic didn't let me get in until 7:30, then I had a test.

So it was Guy Fieri, who has done 9 wishes. He showed them all how to cook their lunches. It was really cool. One of the funner celebrity wishes.

jadenray641 karma

I looked up the numbers for some celebrities if you're interested.

Justin Bieber has done 181 wishes and has 91 more pending.

Taylor Swift has done 125 and has 41 pending.

Lady Gaga, who my boss raved about for a bit. She was a really good celebrity to meet. She's done 17 and has 16 more.

The Jonas Brothers have done 156.

Johnny Depp tries to do as many as he can despite his ridiculous schedule. He's done 28 and has 10 pending.

Paula Deen has also done a lot, 21 wishes completed.

Gordon Ramsey, comparatively hasn't done any, but he has 2 pending so hopefully they'll get to meet him soon!

Guy Fieri has done 9 and has 4 more pending.

jadenray641 karma

Sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday - by the time I had time, it was bedtime haha.

So it turns out I was way off. About 50% of our wishes go to Disney World or a Disney Cruise. After that it's Hawaii or domestic travel.

cobaltcollapse9 karma

Have you met John Cena?

jadenray6410 karma

No, but I have done a lot of wishes for him. Turns out he has done nearly 400 0.o He's a really good celebrity wish, too. He takes the time to meet the kid and get to know them rather than a quick autograph and a picture.

Celebrity wishes have wish escorts - someone to accompany and make sure everything runs smoothly. Usually it's the volunteer who has always been working with the kid. In cases where it's a huge celebrity (Beiber, 1 Direction) or the President, my boss has to go.

ChaiHai8 karma

It touches me that a famous wrestler, who has this whole image, has such a soft spot for children.:') 400, sounds like he hasn't rejected one yet.

jadenray6411 karma

Nope, he hasn't.

I've seen pictures of him with the kids too. He looks like he's really enjoying himself, but also like he's about to tear up in a couple of them.

ChaiHai5 karma

If it were me I would tear up. This precious little life probably won't be around too long. Gah, I made myself tear up. ;_;

jadenray643 karma

Yeah, his project made me pretty upset too. The thing is though you and I can drop it and move on, but his parents don't get that luxury. That tragedy is their life and it consumes them. It's terrible and I wish I could do so much more, but I'm happy to at least help them have a nice vacation.

carmenlrp2 karma

Do you know of any other celebrities that have not rejected any wishes? I think it's amazing what Make A Wish does for children. Thank you for everything that you do.

jadenray643 karma

I looked it up for you, just a couple of celebrities of personal interest to me. When I was talking to my boss about good celebrity wishes, she mentioned Johnny Depp. He's done 28 and has 10 more pending. He tries to do as many as he can but he's just so busy. Robert Downey Junior has done some as well and has more pending (which means that he's accepting more requests).

Guy Fieri has done 9 and Paula Deen has done 21. Bieber has done 181 and has 91 more pending, Taylor Swift has 125 done, and the Jonas Brother have done 156. Most celebrities in general don't reject. And the vast majority of them are really fantastic wishes - the kids just absolutely love them.

jadenray642 karma

I really wish I could do more. I feel like there's always so much that needs to be done. Make A Wish is really cool, I think so too, because they help families in the now. While researching a cure and funding treatment is vital and fantastic, sometimes families just need a break now.

Really, it's easier to say which celebrities do reject wishes because it's so unusual and generally if a celebrity is asked to meet a wish kid, it happens. And in the vast majority of cases, the celebrity is excited to meet the kid and has a great time as well :D Honestly? Every celebrity I can think of has seen at least one wish kid. Anybody in particular you are interested in?

AGoodMan3247 karma

(God forbid, heaven forbid, knock wood, etc.) What wish would you grant for yourself?

jadenray6410 karma

I've thought about this. I'm outside the age limits anyway, but there's nothing I really want, nobody I really want to meet. So I would probably travel to somewhere like Japan or Australia. Somewhere so far away and different. I would like that. What about you?

AGoodMan3249 karma

I'm pretty similar for the most part. Japan would be great to visit with friends and family. I would like the chance to stand in front of Congress and just yell at everyone for a while, though.

jadenray647 karma

LOL I'm not positive about congress specifically, but the president sees a wish kid about once a week. He took a month off in June possibly might in August, but his standard pace is one a week. He's pretty good too. He spends about 10 minutes one on one with the kid, just them in the oval office, no distractions. The kid is the center of attention and gets to ask questions and everything.

ChaiHai6 karma

Awwwww. I find that terribly sweet that the president takes time out of his hectic schedule of running the frigging country to spend some time with a dying child. At first I was a little peeved at the ten minute time limit, then I realized he's freaking leading the country. Good on him. :D

jadenray643 karma

I know right? It makes me happy to. And 10 minutes is actually really good for a celebrity wish. Most celebrities give about 15 minutes, but most kids wish to see celebrities that give the fewest amount of time. So all in all, a celebrity wish lasting 10 minutes is a good one.

InspiredByKITTENS1 karma

I'm so old and fogey-ish, I think I'd rather donate the money to be used on my wish to shelter animals, a veterinary care fund at a hospital in a low-income area, or something rather than dragging myself somewhere. I would get more gratification out of helping the little animals and/or their owners than a one-time trip somewhere. But that's probably why I'm almost a veterinarian right now. Can you do something like that, though? If a donation genuinely makes you happy, and it's all about happiness?

I'm well over the wish age limit (and obviously not dying - could also impact my view on the matter), and I probably wouldn't have said the same when I WAS in age range.

jadenray643 karma

Can you do something like that

Yeah, totally! They would try to specify exactly how you want to help animals and then take it from there. Do you want to give an animal shelter a makeover, do you want to go on a shopping spree for toys, food, and equipment and donate it to a shelter, or something else?

There's a lot of ways to do a lot of things and for me, one of the most incredible things has been people's generosity. This willingness to help is what makes wishes happen and even some of the most impossible out of the world wishes are turned into a smooth process. A wish like this would be creative and very heartwarming, but totally possible.

PrincessOfWales3 karma

The thought of a child using their wish to go on a shopping spree for shelter animals just warmed my heart.

Keep up the good work. My husband and I went to Disney World in December and there was a child on the plane who was going to his wish. Everyone went out of their way to make it a real experience for him.

jadenray641 karma

Thank you :)

The amount that people are willing to do to make these kids' experiences spectacular is just incredible. Getting to see how generous people are mends my cynical heart.

Cpt_Sum_Ting_Wong7 karma

Which wish did you find the most heartbreaking?

jadenray6421 karma

There have been a couple of times when I've cried in the shower over some of these wishes. Usually it's rush wishes - when the child has a poor prognosis (less than a year or so) because you know we're entering a terribly tragic situation and trying to inject a little bit of happiness.

There were two kids both were diagnosed 9 months ago. One was 14 and had liver cancer, and he was given less than a year. He wanted to go to Cambridge because he was very interested in Cosmology and wanted to meet Stephen Hawking. He sounded like he is such a bright kid and had a world of potential. Even though he was lasting longer than his prognosis anticipated, it's tough to see that happen.

The other was a 6 year old who had a brain tumor. Her family struggled a lot between her treatments and her parents ended up divorcing. She didn't respond to chemo and a hemispherectomy was the only other option. She still gets bad seizures though and she's been given a bad prognosis. She loves Mickey and Minnie though. She met them when she was in the hospital and it's all she's been talking about. That sort of excitement and happiness despite her situation just breaks me.

I hate it when they're toddlers, especially if they don't have any siblings. I really hate it when the child has been abandoned by both their mother and their father. Not only are they in a pretty horrible situation, but the people who are supposed to love and support them utterly failed, and it makes wish granting nearly impossible.

tllewell5 karma

Can you elaborate on the 14 year old? Did he get to meet Hawking?

jadenray6422 karma

He came back recently so we haven't heard back from him yet. But yes, he got to meet Stephen Hawking and several of the other professors there. He got to have a mini-lesson of sorts on Cosmology and speak with them about various subjects of his interest. Whether this was one on one, I'm not positive.

I was a little surprised at just how many people he was going to meet and how much time it seemed they were going to give him, so I'm not sure if he was going to a scheduled event or they were all doing this on their own time. I can see both possibilities, but I kinda want to believe it was a one on one experience lol.

He also got to do some of the typical UK wish trip things like a tour and visiting some of the local attractions. But his focus was clearly on Cambridge so I'm very happy that he got to have that and that his family got to have such a cool vacation with him.

Aaaaand now I'm crying.

seasidesarawack7 karma

I'll bet a lot of profs gave him one-on-one discussion time. I've seen a lot of the physics academic community, and while some people are too busy or unwilling to take some time out of there day, the vast majority of profs are delighted at the opportunity to talk about their subject. All it takes is an email - it's pretty easy to schedule a personal meeting. I'm pretty sure that they would go out of their way to give some time to the kid, provided they were made aware of his circumstances.

jadenray642 karma

That is just so cool. I absolutely love seeing people who have this kind of fame take the time for anyone.

ChaiHai3 karma

This response made me tear up. So sad, but at least he got his wish!

There probably are alot of fakes, how do you guys scope them out? Also, ever hear of a fake getting their wish granted? What happened?

jadenray643 karma

I don't work in intake so I can't say what that's like percentage-wise.

However, in order to be accepted, you need a doctor to verify that you have a qualifying medical condition and they later have to agree that your wish is safe for you.

ChaiHai3 karma

I'm glad! What's an example of an unsafe wish? Do you guys frequently modify them to more safe ones?

jadenray646 karma

Not frequently as kids are usually pretty aware of their capabilities. Sometimes they want to do something more adventurous, but they just had surgery or finished chemo and they simply aren't strong enough.

There was a kid who wanted to finally go on his wish and he had been sick for quite a while, but the doctor wouldn't sign off on it because it was a travel wish and he had Cystic Fibrosis. They got a second opinion and he's on his way now. We have to agree that it's good for the kid, the parents have to and their doctor has to. We feel that we have enough emergency medical services in place should anything happen.

ChaiHai3 karma

Well I'm glad that there's backup in place! I didn't think about it, but it makes sense. Have any wishes that went wrong? Like the kid was on their way to the wish and had a medical emergency? :(? Hopefully it rarely happens, that just sounds so heart breaking. :(

jadenray644 karma

None that I've heard of - that would be so awful!

There is this little boy I'm working with right now though. He's 4 and has a congenital heart problem. He was all set to go on his wish and 2 weeks beforehand he fell into a coma. It was terrible! But he's doing better now and he's finally getting to go on it!

jadenray641 karma

I asked my boss about the fake illnesses and she told me that because of the need for a doctor to sign off on the illness, there are no fakes. This is really relieving!


ChaiHai3 karma

I know this reference! But I am set in my ways, so I shall continue to irritate grammar nazis everywhere. Sorry!

jadenray642 karma

I remember learning that a lot was a small square with a grassy field perhaps or where you can put a house. And alot is a large amount.

jciecka7 karma

-Have you ever read The Fault in Our Stars? If so, what are your impressions of how the wish system works in it?

-If not, what would you say older kids 15+ typically wish for (I'm assuming not Disney)?

jadenray649 karma

Yes, I read it when it came out so it's been a while. I really can't recall if Gus' parents came on the wish, but we insist on 2 adults in case of any medical emergencies. It's highly unusual to grant a wish where someone unrelated comes, much less where the only person going isn't related at all. Also, it moved pretty fast. Wish take time, especially international ones. But other than that it seemed appropriate - especially the part where their meal was comped at the hotel, iirc.

It's hard to remember, lol. There aren't that many comparatively. Shopping sprees, vacations to other places, cool things like getting their book published or something really unique.

ojo874 karma

getting their book published is an outstanding wish. i never thought of that. i hope proceeds of those books go back to your foundation or research, but also a bit for the families who lost those children.

jadenray644 karma

I don't know how it will go. The poor kid's wish is having so hold ups. It's finally moving along though so we'll see :D

tyyronebiggums6 karma

How often, if ever, do people fake illness in an attempt to get a wish granted?

jadenray648 karma

I have never heard of this issue. In order to get a wish granted, you need a doctor to verify that you have a qualifying medical issue. These issues are malignant, degenerative, or progressive and by their very nature hard to fake. I think I've seen one case not be accepted, but I wasn't working it, so I can't say much more about it. I also don't work intake so I can't say as to what percentage passes the medical qualification. I can find out on Monday for you!

PoppinPez6 karma

What are the guidelines when it come to making a wish?

jadenray646 karma

Anything you want. The most common are wishes to be, have, go, or meet. While we toss in wish enhancements (limo rides, souvenirs), we try to make sure we're not granting multiple wishes (I wish to go to the movie premiere and have a makeover beforehand).

Iplaymeinreallife5 karma

So, do you ever get the urge to live in a lamp?

jadenray643 karma

hahahahaha! No, but I occasionally break out into song :)

bpoff4 karma

Do you ever meet the kids first hand and get to see their reactions to the wish?

BTW, pretty cool you get to be a part of something so awesome!

jadenray644 karma

I met one of the kids just the other day! It was really unusual, because I stay in the office. The volunteer is the one who goes out and interacts with the family and goes on wish escorts. I'm just a lowly intern :P

BTW it is indescribably satisfying working there. It's easily the highlight of my day.

princesstofu4 karma

My brother was a wish kid. Make A Wish is an amazing organization, with a very tangible benefit. Thanks for all the work you do behind the scenes.

PS. As a family of a wish kid, my ability to volunteer for the local Make A Wish is limited. I can stuff envelopes, and make phone calls, but the local rules prevent me from doing anything more 'hands-on'. Families of wish kids are strictly prevented from interacting with current wish kids, or their families.

jadenray641 karma

I didn't know about that rule! My immediate supervisor was a wish kid hahaha - it's great to see how people like to give back like that. It just continues the happy story.

If you're looking for a volunteering position inside the office, there's a lot to do and it's not boring all on it's own because the work in and of itself is exciting and happy.

I don't know about your chapter, but the volunteers here are everyone, lol. There's only 22 paid employees and at least that many volunteers - in the office alone.

Yeah, I mean you make copies and send faxes, but that's like saying going on vacation is driving. It's the most boring description you could make and still be accurate.

The thing about volunteering is that not only is the work interesting (you're not sending a letter regarding some stupid corporate thing, you're letting a child and their family know they're about to go on a vacation!) but it's unimaginably rewarding and 100% job satisfaction.

So I hope you find a position and they you enjoy your time. I hope that your brother is better. What was the wish, if you don't mind me asking?

Sohda4 karma

Cool beans. I was just looking into volunteering for make a wish as one of the people that contacts the children and their families and gets ideas for wishes. I live in northern Minnesota and apparently there are very few volunteers in the area. Anyway, good on you tho!

jadenray643 karma

Being a volunteer if very enriching! It's hard to describe! I think the Minnesota chapter is smaller but covers a lot of area. I hope you can get a position as a wish granting volunteer!

continuitykey4 karma


jadenray6412 karma

I really like helping kids meet their heroes or people who inspire them, but this one child stands out in my mind. He had a rush wish which means that he had a poor prognosis and we were expediting the wish for him. He was diagnosed 8 months ago and had two siblings who were both over ten years older than him. I just got the feeling that they probably didn't get to know him as well as they knew each other.

The child wanted to go to an unusual place and just have a quiet family vacation. No frills, nothing spectacular. I think it was the quaintness of it coupled with the distance the siblings had.

I'm really glad they got to go on that family vacation. I really hope they enjoyed it. To be a part of making that happen was humbling.

Working there in general gives you a sense of purpose and job satisfaction that is off the charts.

like_crazy6 karma

Instead of wishing to meet a famous person or travel somewhere, a kid just wanted to spend some more time with his family...

brb crying my heart out ;____;

jadenray641 karma

The vast majority of the wishes share that common theme - relaxation and getting away from it all but above all spending more time with their family and giving their family a break.

NaugahydeWindpipe3 karma

What do you do if his wish is to have sex before he dies?

jadenray646 karma

Hahahaha! John Green fan?

Wishes have to be approved by our chapter and our national mission statement (or one of the very official statements of our goals and ethics). So this kind of a wish wouldn't be approved, especially since a wish kid has to be under 18 and that's illegal in most states.

Sincerely, though, it's all about how you word the wish. You want to meet Adele? Ok, we'll send you to a domestic concert. You want to meet Adele and go to London - wish to go to her house or something that requires you to travel there. You have a long distance girlfriend you want to have sex with? Don't wish to have sex. Wish for a vacation to see your girlfriend.

I'm totally getting fired for that

NaugahydeWindpipe3 karma

The legal age of consent in Nevada is 16 years of age. Nevada also has plenty of legal brothels. If the kid is 16, then this would be legal. If the kid asks to go a legal brothel in Nevada and he is dying. Then what do you tell him?

jadenray641 karma

Wow I did not know this. It would be a no, most likely. Of course, I can't speak on behalf of the people whose job is to actually make that decision, but I really doubt they would approve this type of wish. One big reason is because bad PR could be involved and as a non-profit, your reputation = your budget. We strive to maintain a quality organization and sometimes that means turning things. But again, you really shouldn't take little old me as the voice of Make A Wish on this.

DVazquez8103 karma

How did you get this job? What was the process like? How long does it take to grant a wish?

Great AMA!

jadenray642 karma

I was googling for internships with places like Be The Match and the Red Cross. Make A Wish had a position, so I went through the standard application and phone interview and I got the position!! The said they had a lot of qualified applicants and the interns I works with are from schools like UVA so I'm not sure what was so competitive on my resume. Either my 4.0 or my experience as an event manager for the Spring Fair when I was a Relay captain, but I just feel like to have gotten the job!

The standard wish takes a little over a year to grant. This is assuming everything goes smoothly and it doesn't often. Kids get sick or doctors take forever to get back or they're #15 on a list to meet that celebrity.

Rush wishes and priority wishes can go through in just a couple of months though, which is important because those kids generally only have a year or so.

Thank you! Great questions! If you are interested in participating with Make A Wish, you can find your local chapter and inquire about internships or volunteering.

SCf31 karma


jadenray641 karma

Mhm, why? Also, how did you know?

SCf32 karma


jadenray642 karma

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it. I'm considering talking to the Development Department as seeing if they would want an actual person representing Make A Wish to do an AMA...

Oh! Yeah, UVA haha. I don't go there though, I go to a school of a smaller caliber lol, which makes me feel surprised to work with people from that type of school.

SCf32 karma


jadenray641 karma

Oh me too! Small state, huh?

SCf32 karma


jadenray641 karma

My first one was. It was this tiny university, about 5,000 students and it's in my hometown - where my parents live. I live near VA tech now.

Funny enough, I am also originally from MD. Moved when I was 12.

vinuash3 karma

Have you seen any truly bizarre requests for wishes?

Have you helped schedule for John Cena or any of the other big wish grantors?

jadenray648 karma

I've done so many John Cena wishes. He's in the area a lot, lol. Actually WWE is just a fantastic celebrity wish in general. They really take care to interact with the kids, give them the attention and make their day unforgettable. They provide SO much, I'm really happy to see them getting the attention they deserve.

The most common wishes are for Disneyworld or a Disney cruise, though. I have no idea why, maybe it's because these kids talk to each other in treatment after going on the trip and say how much fun it was? But Disney has completely streamlined it. They have made the process smooth as silk with the help of Give Kids the World, so I actually like the easy Disney wish every now and then because while bizarre wishes are fun and excited and creative - they're exhausting!

To be clear, the majority of wishes aren't for Disney or John Cena, but of all of the wishes we grant, they are the most popular. Regardless, we have kids going to Disney every week.

As for weird, I had one kid wish to go to a local festival. They would be driving themselves, the tickets were 15$ each.... I just couldn't understand why the kid wished for it. There was that much we could throw in to make it spectacular though everyone did what they could (free food at the festival, premiere seating, etc.) But I just didn't understand why they didn't just pay for it and go themselves - was 15$ really out of their budget because that's so upsetting.

There's another that's causing a headache right now. The family spends half their time in one country and half their time here. It's unclear whether our chapter or the other chapter should handle the wish. But the child wants a parrot and figuring out how the parrot is going to travel with them, what forms are needed, that sort of thing is a really painful process x.x

vinuash2 karma

That's really interesting. Maybe the kid who wanted to go the festival just had heard the family talking about money issues and still wanted to keep the family tradition of going to this festival going or something.

The parrot is also a very interesting thing. Honestly I don't know what type of care the parrot would need, nor what kind of forms will be needed over and over to keep the parrot traveling with them. I wonder how plane travel would be on the parrot as well.

Thanks for taking the time to give me such a long thought out answer! :)

jadenray644 karma

We don't pay for treatments or anything like that, but we provide shopping sprees and we provide scholarships. We know that medical illnesses are a HUGE financial struggle, but at the same time, we want the kid to have their wish fulfilled, outside of any influences - a wish that will enrich their experience.

The parrot would have to go in cargo. I wouldn't fly a pet, personally. I'm not sure if we're going to fulfill this wish or ask for a backup, depending upon how rough it will be on the bird.

In my research, I found an airliner that specified exactly how many falcons were allowed on board..... We wondered if the airline had encountered issues with falconers before or the rules-writer got bored.

Thank you for the thoughtful questions :D

ijarritos3 karma

Has anyone ever asked for infinite wishes?

jadenray648 karma

There was a girl who wished to grant wishes for everyone else. She essentially wished that everyone else would get a wish. I couldn't find the article but I did find this: Cracked's 8 Most Badass Wishes

talbottron3 karma

Thank you so much for doing this. I've temporarily had to reduce hours at my job and have been looking for something to fill the extra time with. I just found a Make a Wish chapter nearby and have registered as a volunteer. It seems this organization truly does great things, I hope I can get involved!

jadenray643 karma

I hope you are ready for a very enriching and surprisingly emotional experience. It's not surprising that you'll get emotional about some of these kids, it's when you do. Regardless, it's the highlight of my day and probably my life so far - I sincerely hope people with expendable time consider it as a way to contribute and receive rewarding experiences in return.

CarlG883 karma

Are you ever given updates on the conditions of children after a wish has been granted? if so has there ever been anything uplifting?

jadenray643 karma

I haven't. I've been working there for this summer only. We've been given thank you - especially after RG3's wish. He seriously went above and beyond for that wish, we were all incredibly grateful and the family got back in touch with us to say thank you and send a picture to hold onto.

travman20112 karma

Do you actually receive proceeds from Chi Omega?

jadenray642 karma

I can't say for sure. I could ask specifically, but we get so many donations.

On a related note: I open the mail on Monday and seeing everyone's generosity is such a great way to start the week :D I've seen everything from thousands to 10$ and every penny counts. I especially love it when people send notes with their donation - reading about their fundraisers is heartwarming.

jadenray641 karma

I asked and we do get donations from them! "Not very often, but we do."

fishstick0072 karma

People like you add a little hope to my world so thank you. What do you want to do with your life, and did this experience influence it at all?

jadenray643 karma

You're too nice! I'm just trying to help.

I'm a student. I'm a senior getting my major in Information Systems with minors in Business Admin and Management. I want to be able to help people. I know I have some talents and I want to at the very least make people's work experiences more enjoyable.

This internship has given me a lot of perspective on life - if you have anything you want to do that you've been putting off for any reason, just go and do it. Stop putting it off. Your job isn't your life. Invest in experiencing the world more and doing things that you want to do. Do something meaningful, be a part of something, do something life changing - for you or someone else. You see things differently and you find every day life to be a lot more rewarding. And if you have any loved ones, give them a big hug and be grateful that they're safe and healthy - never take that for granted.

I'm glad for all of the opportunities and I hope to make the most of what I've been given :D

Kuderererer2 karma

I know this is old but I just would like to say thank you. I had my wish made in 1998 and I was fortunate enough to survive my terminal illness. This Monday I am proposing to start a Wishmakers Chapter at my college. A lot has happen and I really want to get back.

jadenray642 karma

I'm so glad you're doing much better!!

You really should - this sort of work has not only be very fulfilling but a lot of fun as well :D

Downbound922 karma

I think what you guys do is awesome. I have to know, do kids ever wish for something inappropriate or risque, and would you ever grant a wish like that?

jadenray642 karma

No, we wouldn't. The wish has to meet out national mission and the chapter's mission. I think that's the word. I'm so sorry, I forgot the name of the organization's set of goals and standards.

Downbound925 karma

Thanks for the answer and don't worry about it. It's good that you work for a charity because you're way too nice for the for-profit world.

jadenray645 karma

You're too flattering. I'm just trying to do my share.

langhston2 karma

Have there been any wishes that you thought were selfish or wrong?

jadenray645 karma

There was this one boy who was about 8. I don't really recall his illness. He had a cousin with him at the interview that was pushing for him to change his Disney trip to Atlantis and instead of having his grandfather along, bring his cousin's mom. That one made me upset. We are very invested in granting the wish kid's true wish, and having outside influences like that can be frustrating. The volunteers were good though and everything worked out for the best.

langhston2 karma

Have you ever given some of your personal money or time for the wishers?

jadenray642 karma

Not me personally. The volunteers do fairly often.

When the volunteers go to meet the families, they provide ice breaker gifts and food. And when the wish kid goes off on their trip, they throw them a little goodbye party at Dunkin Donuts for example. We have a supply of toys for volunteers to grab from though they'll pepper the gifts with some that are personalized to the child's interests as well. We will reimburse the volunteers of course, but sometimes they donate it.

My hours are nice and set. It's a benefit of being an intern. As a volunteer, your time will be needed at less scheduled times, usually with at least a few days advance warning, but sometimes it can be a little last minute.

bobbymich2 karma

So what are some of the best and worst sports teams for wishes? My cousin Charlie wished to see a Red Sox game and he got go on the field for batting practice and got to meet with some of his favorite players which I thought was really cool.

jadenray642 karma

That is really awesome. The Nationals (DC's baseball team) donate tickets alllll the time. We have a kid coming in to meet one of the players and they're both from the same country. I think the player might be more excited than the wish kid, lol!

If you consider WWE a "team" than they are one of the best, lol.

I feel awful because there are a couple of teams that are just on the tip of my tongue. I'm going to ask my boss on Monday and get back to you with more.

Quilton2 karma

Have you ever had to tell a child that you can't make their wish come true?

jadenray641 karma

Oh, yeah. I mean, I wouldn't say it's common, but it happens. Sometimes it's a celebrity wish that just won't happen (doesn't work with Make A Wish, doesn't work with the time frame, etc).

Usually it's an unusual wish that we can't get to happen - like getting on a tapping of a show, going to a premiere, breing in a show. We don't know how many strings we can pull until we start tugging, right?

We ask them for their first wish and a second wish when the volunteers first go out. We make it clear to them that their wish may not happen due to its nature so they don't get their expectations up. We would then just go to their back up wish. Usually if there's a need to switch wishes though, it's because the kid changed their mind lol!

yonkerrs2 karma

What was the hardest wish you had to grant? Also i bet it is extremely staisfying to see them smile amd their reactions :)

jadenray642 karma

The hardest wish... thinking back, I keep coming up with this one boy. He was about 9 and was a rush wish meaning he had less than a year prognosis. I remember he was diagnosed only 8 months ago and for everything to happen so suddenly must have shocked his family. Especially since his mother just lost her father and his father's father was in the hospital, not doing well.

His dad was taking the news particularly poorly. He had two siblings though but they were much older than him and there was this sense that they didn't know him as well as they knew each other. It was just such a heartbreaking situation.

He wished to go to on a family vacation, just a quiet little no frills thing. He wanted to go to a place that kids rarely wish to go, so I was very involved in setting up all of his reservations and his itinerary. Trying to sound so excited and happy in all of the descriptions for things to do in the area was really difficult, knowing how this was basically a final vacation for the family.

It is incredibly satisfying to hear how much fun they had - how much their mind was blown really. There was a girl who met Alicia Keys and she's crying in all of the pictures, completely ecstatic. Stuff like that gives you so much job satisfaction.

PandaBurrito1 karma

Where did they go for the vacation?

jadenray643 karma

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland Not many families go there at all. Usually if you go on a trip, you travel far away. Deep Creek Lake also doesn't have that many activities to do in comparison to some other resorts.

Onate2 karma

I heard this ugly rumour once that if the kid doesn't die, then they are forced to pay back the money that was used for their wish. Please tell me it's not true.

jadenray644 karma

Wow. Yeah that's just wrong.

We gets tons of kids who won't necessarily die from their illness because medical advances are improving their life expectancy. Things like Downs Syndrome for example. The medical illness just has to be progressive, malignant, or degenerative.

Shock272 karma

My grandpa wanted to do a make a wish for a 6 year old with MS that he knows. When he called the local chapter, they told him that because she wasn't terminal within a month, I believe, that they couldn't grant her wish? Does this sort of thing happen often?

jadenray642 karma

That sounds off.... Maybe they have a different policy? There are different types of wishes - regular, priority, and rush. The priority and rush wishes are for kids with poor prognoses, rush being the worse of the two (less than a year). Perhaps this is what they were referring to?

FreeOnes_Petra2 karma

First, thank you very much for this AMA. Wishing Star is one of my favorite charities and in fact, last year I had to clear out a few hundred Breyer horses I had collected as a child and donated them all (a lot of collector/limited editions w/certificates) to wishing star. I was even called asking if they could donate part of the collection to an autistic girl who's collection melted in a house fire. That was pretty cool.

So, my question. Who chooses and HOW do they choose?? How do they say you're deserving but you're not to children?

jadenray641 karma

Who chooses which children get a wish?

Every child who is between the ages of 2.5 and 18 with a malignant, degenerative, or progressive illness qualifies. Anything that is life threatening. Like I'm not sure if Down Syndrome by itself qualifies but children can have serious complications caused by Down Syndrome and that would qualify. You get referred either by the child themselves, their parents, or their doctor.

What we have to decide here is when to grant the wish. For example, I think there's twice as many qualifying children in our chapter being diagnosed each year as what our budget allows. So in the end, half of the newly diagnosed children just get added to this massive backlog :(

This just means that it takes longer to grant wishes than we want it to, a little over a year assuming the child stays in good health.

It's almost always a first come, first serve. Sometimes if the kid really wants a big budget ticket, we'll scoot it back a bit. Sometimes, they'll wish for something like to go to the Super Bowl, which has a wait list of 3 years. But sometimes we get rush or priority wishes which we expedite because they're reserved for kids with poor prognoses (priority: around 2 years, rush: less than a year). Sometimes those priority wishes are because the kid is finally healthy and we want to take advantage of it.

If a child qualifies for a wish, they get it. The only reason they wouldn't get what they wish for is that the wish is impossible (go to a tapping of a show, but the show doesn't allow people to be there for tappings) or if they pass. Actually, I take that back. A lot of wishes get caught up in the process because we need permission from everyone who has legal guardianship over the child and for kids whose parents aren't together, this can mean months, even years of waiting for signatures. Sometimes it's cancelled altogether because the parents don't want to try to find the other parent. It's the most annoying thing ever, but it's their choice.

gellman2 karma

I would expect there are some situations where the medical needs of the patient have to be cumbersome to what they want to do.

Has a wish ever been curtailed or unable to be pursued because of the limitations presented like this?

jadenray641 karma

Yes, but thankfully not very often. Partially because the kids have realistic understanding of their abilities and also because people go far out of their way to find work arounds for us and it's amazing to see everyone come together like that.

Carriemomto22 karma

Very rewarding job!! I always thought Make a Wish was only for terminally ill children. Recently I found out otherwise. I have read the website before, and it says you try to grant every wish. Do you ever deny a child? What would be a reason to deny their wish?

jadenray641 karma

The only reason we deny a kid is because they don't meet our requirements:

Between the ages of 2.5 and 18

Have never received a wish before (from us or other similar organizations)

Have a life threatening medical illness at the time of the referral

Mostly is the last part that makes kids ineligible. Sometimes it's hard to tell them, but sometimes their parents are quite happy to hear their child doesn't have a life threatening illness.

You're right. They don't have to be terminally ill, just life threatening. Haha just life threatening.

ChaosZeroX2 karma

Has The Rock done any wishes?

Do the NBA teams give you guys alot of trouble with meeting the players?

jadenray642 karma

He's done 134 and he's got 3 more pending. That's quite a lot!

Um... yeah, unfortunately. I mean, I wouldn't say a lot but when I asked by boss which teams were the the hardest to work with she said that basketball players were difficult. I have no idea why. She didn't either. It's weird that an industry would have such a high rate of difficult celebrities, especially when being difficult is so rare to begin with. Who knows?

jadenray642 karma

LOL no thankfully I don't. That's just too horrible!

BiggerJ2 karma

What happens if a child gets granted a wish but then fully recovers? Do parents ever worry about getting a bad reputation as a result?

jadenray641 karma

They need to have a life threatening medical illness at the time of the referral. Since granting wishes can take some time - especially if the child is sick or in treatment - its perfectly possible for the life threatening illness to be in a stable condition by the time their wish is granted. This is actually a preferred situation since its much safer to travel and the child will be able to enjoy it more if they are in a healthier condition.

So I would have to say it happens, yes. We love to see it happen. I think that answers your question?

unabletodecideonname2 karma

I just wanted to thank you for what you and your employer do. I was granted a wish almost 18 years ago now. What you guys do is awesome, so keep up the good work.

Also, if anyone is interested in an AMA on how the recipients experience was, let me know.

jadenray641 karma

Let me know when/if you do.

jadenray641 karma

I was just thinking about this! I would love one! I have been SO curious about how things go on the other side -- please do!

alexandroid-2 karma

Has Simon Cowell done any wishes?

jadenray641 karma

Not positive, I can check on Monday because I can't access the database right now. I'm sure he must have but I can give you more information then. I'm sorry for such a not-answer :/

firewontquell2 karma

This is an awesome AMA; thanks so much!

jadenray643 karma

Awww thanks! I think my job is awesome!! My job title is Junior Genie. I work in the freaking Wish Granting Department. I feel magical.

littlelightgiver2 karma

I agree, thanks for doing this! I work in research at a well known children's hospital. Reading about the opposite end of what I'm involved with really makes everything come full circle.

jadenray643 karma

That's so cool! I really hope you enjoy your job because there's a world of people who are thankful you're doing it.

Arandy052 karma

Thank you for all you have done. I personally know how much a Make-A-Wish trip means to the people involved. Great charity.

jadenray641 karma

Thank you very much. I haven't really done much and I wish I could do more. I'm glad to hear the trips are as precious as I hope they are.

MissAlvacado2 karma

How does one go about become a Make a wish intern or volunteer?

jadenray641 karma

Contact your local chapter and inquire there. Their website will almost definitely have some sort of volunteer information. As for Internships -- you're probably not too late to apply for the fall sections.

I'm glad you're interested!! It's an incredibly rewarding position and I hope you get a chance to be apart of the organization :D

Borhos1 karma


jadenray641 karma

Oh good luck with the winter term! They want to know that you'll be a hard worker and that you'll be a team player. Non profits are a lot of hard work and sometimes it will seem endless. Yet due to the nature of the work (fulfilling the wishes of sick children) if doesn't get dreary.

They'll want to know that you have an enthusiasm for the work. Brush up on what make a wish is, the history of it. Know that you wont be meeting the children and families, but doing a lot of paperwork, filing, faxes, mailing.

They like it when prospective volunteers know their stuff ahead of time because it shows that they've done their homework.

At least in my area (a pretty populated area, actually) the internships were really competitive. I don't know if that's true everywhere. So doing what you can to show you're interested in make a wish because you agree with its philosophy on a fundamental level and not just because you want an internship to put on your resume will really help you out.

My interviewer was my supervisor and she asked me about my volunteering experience (I had been a team captain for relay for life and through that hosted a spring fair), what other relevant experience I had (I had planned a beach vacation for 12 college students of varying budgets), and what I hoped to gain from the internship (im in college to become a project manager and each child's wish is like a project).

I hope that's helpful! Good luck!!!