The Children’s Wish Foundation truly is a unique charity. Since 1984, this Canadian organization has made it their mission to grant the favorite wishes of children afflicted with life threatening illnesses. To date, over 20,000 wishes have been granted across Canada, with 70 wishes granted last year in Saskatchewan, the most ever in the province, including to children in the Weyburn region.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Children’s Wish Foundation Lottery in Saskatchewan, and to celebrate this milestone, the CWF is holding their annual million dollar lottery as fundraiser, along with Wishmaker Walk events.
To see the program at work, one does not need not look very far. At 15 months old, Corbin from Yellow Grass was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor; a malignant tumor, the size of a baseball, on his left kidney. Corbin’s mother, Roberta, discovered a large lump protruding from his back in June of 2009. Alarmed, she met with her local doctor and was informed that Corbin would require immediate surgery.
Corbin was admitted immediately to Regina General Hospital, confined to a crib, hooked up to an IV and unable to eat for four of the next five days.
Corbin recovered quickly from his surgery and began 18 months of chemotherapy shortly after.
In February of 2011, a request was sent to the Children’s Wish Foundation. Corbin’s wish was simple: “I want to ride my bike to Disney to see Mickey Mouse! Love you, Bye!” On January 20, 2012, Corbin and his family were flown to Disneyland for a week of carefree adventure.
Corbin is now six years old and brimming with exuberance. His check-ups are every six months and he is well on his way to a full recovery.
What makes the Children’s Wish Foundation so unique is their ability to grant custom wishes. Instead of offering the children a list of predetermined wishes to choose from, children are encouraged to dream big and create their own wishes.
“When we ask a child what wish they want granted, it really is an open-ended question,” said Gay Oldhaver, director of Children’s Wish Foundation, Saskatchewan Chapter.
“For example, our charity has sent children and their families to Legoland in Florida, Comic Con events throughout North America, and the Sochi Olympics. Disneyland and Disney World are common wishes for a lot of the younger children, but as children get older they tend to become more global, so a lot of them wish to be sent to places like Hawaii or Spain for example,” said Oldhaver.
Sometimes children have to be encouraged to wish for more, explains Oldhaver. One child’s only wish was to receive a very comfortable reclining chair. Another child wished for an X-box.
In order to be eligible for the program, children must be between the ages of three and 17 and diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
After diagnosis, the family can contact The Children’s Wish foundation. Next, a doctor will assess the child’s condition and from the evidence gathered will determine whether or not the child is eligible for the program. If the child is eligible, work will then begin on the child’s custom wish.
The lottery offers a grand prize of $1 million, provided in one tax-free payment. A total of 36,000 tickets are available; the deadline to purchase tickets is August 21 at midnight.
Additional prize packages include vacations for life or $75,000 in cash, a weekly allowance of $200 every week for a year, a 50/50 draw, your choice of a 2015 Lexus RX 350, 2014 Chevrolet Silverado High Country, or $70,000 in cash. The lottery is regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, with all proceeds going to the Children’s Wish Foundation and being used in Saskatchewan.