WADDINGTON, N.Y. -- About three years ago, as a reporter for a newspaper in St. Lawrence County, Benny Fairchild was asked to write a story for Make-A-Wish® Central New York to help recruit wish granters in his area. Little did he know that his decision to take on that article would lead him to one of the best experiences he has ever had.
Fairchild and his wife Jamie attended the Make-A-Wish® wish granter training session, excited for the road ahead. Now, as a newspaper reporter, a husband, and a father to his 21-month-old daughter Ali, one would think Fairchild already has a full schedule. However, Fairchild has volunteered for Make-A-Wish Central New York as a wish granter for three years and is working on his fifth wish.
“It’s basically exactly how it sounds,” he explained. “Wish granters meet with the wish children, find out what their wish would be, and relay it back to the office. Really it is something that anyone can do.”
According to Fairchild, it is better if wish granters are personable and understanding and like children.
“They are just kids that are going through a tough time and we are there to help them through it,” he said.
“The children are overwhelmingly positive. They don’t have the ‘why me’ attitude. They have such a positive outlook on life,” he said.
Fairchild referred back to his second of five wishes that he has worked on thus far. Oliver was a 3-year-old boy with pediatric cancer and all he wanted to do was see the blue parrots from the movie Rio. Fairchild and his wife, who also happens to be a wish granter, planned for the young boy to go see the ocean in Miami, visit Jungle Island and the Miami Zoo, and see the beloved blue parrots. They got creative with the announcement party and organized a treasure hunt on the beach in Waddington. Oliver had so much fun at the announcement party that his mother later told Fairchild and his wife that Oliver thought the treasure hunt was his wish.
“When you see these kids going through what they are going through, and they are happy and smiling, it is inspirational,” said Fairchild.
Make-A-Wish is looking for more volunteers like Fairchild throughout Northern New York.
“You won’t regret it,” Fairchild said of the volunteer experience. “The first time you meet a wish child and talk with them and their family you will realize it was one of the best decisions you ever made in your life. There is nothing that can beat the feeling of putting a smile on a child’s face.”
Make-A-Wish Central New York CEO and President Diane Kuppermann is positive that there is something within the organization for everyone. She urges anyone thinking about volunteering to give it a try.
“We cannot do what we do without the volunteers,” she said. “They are the lifeline of the organization, they are absolutely essential.”
Wish granters are currently needed in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Volunteer training sessions will be held in these areas in the early fall. Those interested can contact Volunteer and Community Outreach Manager Jennifer Snyder at (315)475-9474, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cny.wish.org for specific requirements.