Nonprofit Spotlight: Wishes Do Come True with Make a Wish Southern Florida

Children have dreams they wish would come true. But how many do? A local Lupus patient had his own dream. Savion Elliott, a 13-year-old boy from Spring Hill, battles an auto immune diagnosis and is a liver recipient. His days are more focused with overcoming his own health issues than receiving a wish. But, after being referred to receive a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Savion’s focus turned to joy as he anticipated receiving his very own wish.

Learn more about children’s Lupus here:

The day came for this shy boy to have his dream come true. A chauffeur-driven limousine arrived at his home to take him out for a shopping experience to remember forever. Arriving at a local Best Buy, Savion’s eyes grew wide when he was shown the Xbox One X, which has been called “the most powerful gaming console.’ His shyness was replaced with a huge smile.

He carefully selected games he wanted to play with his younger brother. After receiving his very own gaming console, Savion and his family celebrated at lunch. Savion called this special time, “The best day of his life.”

He didn’t think about doctor’s appointments or his health issues. For that moment in time, he was a boy having a dream come true.

Savion's Wish
Savion’s Wish

Making Dreams Come True

From Chaz, with stage 4 brain cancer who wanted a “man cave” to Ruby who wished to celebrate her birthday in Paris, each of these local Make-A-Wish recipients received a carefully crafted wish to fulfil their dreams.

How do these dreams come true?

It all begins with a child and a wish. A child can dream as big as their imagination takes them. Like Ruby flying half way across the world to Paris. Or a child meeting their favorite celebrity or sports figure. All children need to qualify for a wish are three requirements. The child…

·       Is between 2 ½ and 18 years old,

·       Has life threatening or critical illness

·       Has not had a wish before

A referral starts the wish process. Anyone can refer a child to receive a wish. A parent, a doctor, a nurse or even the child themselves. After the local Make-A-Wish office receives a referral, wish granters meet the family to find out their specific needs and design a perfect wish.  They can choose to go on a trip, to be someone for a day (like a policeman), to meet their favorite celebrity, to have a special gift, or to give to others or their family.

Richard Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, stated, “We grant every wish for every child that qualifies.”

  Did you know?

–          A wish granted in Tampa Bay is funded locally

Have you ever donated to Make-A-Wish at an event like Walk for Wishes or Night of the Iguana? Did you know your donation went to fund wishes locally in the Tampa Bay Area? Though Make-A-Wish is a national and international organization, Mr. Kelly explains that wishes granted in Tampa Bay are funded locally. Donating helps children in our community make their dreams come true.

You can participate at the next local event held by Make-A-Wish called Wedges for Wishes. On February 19, 2018 , Avila Golf and Country Club will host the event with all proceeds to benefit local wishes.

Did you know?

–          Not all wishes granted are for children with life-threatening illnesses

A child does not need to have a life-threatening illness to receive a wish. Other critical illnesses could include cancer, sickle cell or as in Savion’s case, Lupus to name few. Richard Kelly states, “Many (children) of them go onto live happy lives. Many go into remission and thankfully medical treatment has come a long way in a fairly short period of time. So kids are able to deal with their illnesses or beat their illnesses.”

Doctors help guide the Make-A-Wish team to determine which category a child falls under. Mr. Kelly explains, “We get to the doctor twice. To certify they have a life-threatening or critical illness and then to certify that it’s (the wish) appropriate due given their illness.” If you know of child with either a critical illness or life-threatening diagnosis, refer them to Make-A-Wish at

Did you know?

–          Wishes change lives

Wishes do more than provide respite from dealing with a critical illness or life-threatening diagnosis. It can change a child’s and their families lives as well. According to the results of a 2011 Wish Impact Study that surveyed wish parents, health professionals, and Make-A-Wish® volunteers, a wish come true empowers children with life-threatening medical conditions to fight harder against their illnesses. When wish kids are granted a wish, they get more than just a great experience for a day, two days, or a week. That experience improves the quality of life for them and their entire family.

Health professionals treating them say the wish experience is an important adjunct to medical treatment, and they observe their patients feel better and comply more readily with treatment protocols when they experience their wish come true.

Did You Know?

–          There are many unique ways to make a wish come true

Yes, you can donate to have your financial help to provide first-class wishes. But, you can also volunteer at an event like Walk for Wishes or consider being a wish granter. A wish granter meets with the family to craft a wish designed with the child’s dream in mind. Maybe the child loves balloons, and the wish granter suggests a trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Or the child loves dolphins and a trip to SeaWorld makes the perfect wish.

A wish granter helps helps the child’s dream come to life. Imagine the joy of seeing children’s smiles first hand. Contact Lisa Andrews to become a wish granter. ([email protected].)

Volunteer Ideas:

–          Host your own Make-A-Wish event. Run a bake sale or have a community garage sale.

–          Get involved with Kids For Wish Kids, a school based fundraiser.

–          Have your company host a fundraising event.

–          Have a holiday party and collect gift cards.

Helping a child who is medically challenged is so rewarding. As Richard Kelly states, “Our focus is to give this child a respite from their illness. To give them the hope and joy and strength that they deserve.”

So, Tampa Bay, refer a future wish kid. Your efforts will touch the lives of these precious, resilient and strong children. To read about more wish kid stories, go to

·       If you are a child life specialist, pediatric nurse, social worker, physician or any other medical professional that could potentially refer a child, please contact Janey Cook, Medical, and Community Outreach Coordinator, 813-288-2600 ([email protected])

·       Richard Kelly, Chief Operating Officer for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, has been a part of Make-A-Wish for 21 years. He saw the power of a wish first hand when he worked in professional sports. Watching professional athletes interact with wish kids would impact his life forever. He saw how wishes turned lives around and how it changed the trajectories of children’s lives and not just the child but the families as well.

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