Syracuse, NY (Dec.12,2016)—Nineteen-year-old Stephanie McKeel, of Massena, thought she had travelled three hours to serve as a Make-A-Wish Central New York ambassador for a “Believe Day” event at Macy’s Destiny USA.
However, after completing a letter to Santa and posing for photos at the store’s Believe Box, she got the surprise of a lifetime: McKeel, who has cystic fibrosis and underwent a double lung transplant in May, was told her wish to go to Hawaii is coming true.
The message was delivered by her Wish Granting Volunteers, Benny and Jamie Fairchild of Waddington, with a crowd of supporters from Make-A-Wish Central New York and Syracuse University, including S.U. mascot Otto the Orange, members of the S.U. Dance Team, members of the S.U. Wishmakers on Campus Club, and several S.U. Theater Majors who serenaded McKeel and the crowd. The S.U. component was inspired by McKeel, who is an avid Syracuse University basketball fan.
In honor of National Believe Day and the surprise wish announcement party, Macy’s representatives offered McKeel a makeover and a gift card for shopping. Before the makeover, the Fairchilds let McKeel know the celebration wouldn’t end at Macy’s: Make-A-Wish Central New York arranged for the family to stay overnight at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and attend the December 10th S.U. Men’s and Women’s Basketball games at the Carrier Dome.
As McKeel enjoyed her makeover, the crowd enjoyed specially made Believe cake, and Make-A-Wish Central New York President and CEO Diane Kuppermann thanked everyone for participating.
McKeel was referred to Make-A-Wish in May 2015 but, due to health issues, was not approved for the wish experience by her physician until November 2016. Make-A-Wish and the McKeel family hope the wish trip to Hawaii will take place in the spring.
Macy’s Believe is an annual campaign that benefits Make-A-Wish chapters across the country. Initiated in 2008, the campaign extends from early Nov. through Dec. 24. For every letter to Santa,
Macy’s donates $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million nationally. On National Believe Day donations are doubled. In addition to the letter-writing component, the campaign also features other elements, including the heartwarming “Yes, Virginia” animated special and a school musical program. To learn more, visit www.macys.com/believe.
Make-A-Wish Central New York grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Since the chapter was incorporated in 1985, nearly 1,700 wishes have been granted thanks to the committed support of donors, supporters and volunteers. The chapter serves 15 counties, including Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, St. Lawrence, Tioga and Tompkins. For more information, visit www.cny.wish.org.
1. Stephanie McKeel, of Massena, right, finds out her wish to go to Hawaii is coming true. The surprise wish announcement was coordinated by Make-A-Wish Central New York and held Friday, Dec. 9th, at Macy’s Destiny USA. Also pictured are, at left (face unseen), Wish Granting Volunteer Benny Fairchild, Syracuse University Mascot Otto the Orange, and Make-A-Wish Central New York President and CEO Diane Kuppermann.
2. Stephanie McKeel (third from left), of Massena, celebrated with her family at a surprise wish announcement party Friday, Dec. 9th. The event, held at Macy’s Destiny USA in Syracuse, was coordinated by Make-A-Wish Central New York. Pictured front (left to right) are Macy’s Destiny USA Store Manager Jill Groce, Wish Granting Volunteer Jamie Fairchild, Wish Kid Stephanie McKeel, Kristen McKeel, and Shawn McKeel. Pictured back row (left to right) are Wish Granting Volunteer Benny Fairchild, Make-A-Wish Central New York President and CEO Diane Kuppermann, and Lisa McKeel.