The charity that grants the wishes to ailing Iowa children is closing in on a landmark. Since the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Iowa chapter was founded just over 20 years ago, it’s fulfilled more than 1,900 wishes. Before this year is out, it should reach 2,000.
Chapter C.E.O. Brett Ridge says they’re touching the lives of more kids now than ever before, thanks in part to better communication. "People had the impression that it had to be a terminal condition that the child had and that meant, obviously, that the child was 100% going to pass away, and that’s not necessarily true," Ridge says. "As long as there’s a life-threatening condition, designated by your doctor, you qualify for that."
Ridge says they’ll grant about 160 wishes to Iowa children this year — from videogame consoles and computers to the always-popular trips to Disneyland. He says they’d planned to grant even more wishes this year, but some of the recent requests have gotten more complicated than usual.
Ridge says: "We can put together a trip fairly quickly but some of the things we’ve been doing with playhouses and pools and boats and things like that kids have wished for, those have taken us a little bit longer to put together. That’s really actually quite a bit more fun for us and for my staff to do."
The army that makes the charity function is rooted in its team of 450 volunteers statewide, working in area committees in: Ames, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Valley, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Mason City, Ottumwa, Davenport and Sioux City. He says most of the money for Make-A-Wish comes from private donations from individuals or corporations and from special events across Iowa — like golf tournaments, motorcycle rides and other local fundraisers.
"Our wish program’s percentage, as far as our spending is concerned, has been around 83 or 84% over the last couple of years and we anticipate that to continue this year as well," Ridge says. "For a lot of people who understand these things, they know that’s the mark of a good charity that you’re spending over 80% of your money on the wishes or on the programs in some way."
For more information, visit the Iowa Make-A-Wish Foundation website .