Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bullying is Never Tolerated

Bullying is NOT OK.

I was talking with a wish child the other day and she was telling me about being bullied in school. 

This really bothers me on many levels. 

Why do people feel that the only way to communicate with someone who is different in some way is to bully them?  

What happened to understanding, compassion and caring about others? 

Look into someone’s eyes, see their smile and hear their laugh, or just know that they have a heart and feelings the same as you. 

I have heard the reports of bullying from other wish children and their parents, and think, "How awful that these children, who already have too much to deal with, also have to deal with the unkindness of their peers who should be their friends and give them support and camaraderie."

One of our wish children wants to write a book for her senior project on bullying, I hope that she is able to accomplish this task and maybe it will create some gentle and caring thoughts and do away with bullying, at least to some degree. 

Maybe she will make a difference!

Pay attention to what your kids are saying to you, there is a good chance that they too, are being bullied in school, at play, on the bus, or even in the library.  Take a stand, friends!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Cherished Are Our Memories


Sometimes we don't realize how very special they are, until a tragedy brings them into focus. 

In the past few years, I have experienced this "treasure chest" of memories several times over, and am so thankful to have them, both the good and the bad, for they all are part of what we had, and have helped pattern our lives. We spend our lives making memories of  all kinds. Some more special than others and make us happier, but we have them all. 

Whether we remember things from growing up or the joy and delight of a recent trip or experience, memories can be the greatest treasure and comfort. When times get hard it is comforting to pull strength from those special memories and maybe even divert our attentions for awhile with more pleasant thoughts. 

That is what I hope our families can feel from the wishes we grant. That they are the treasured memories that will bring them lasting joy and comfort as they remember them over the years.

I would like to think that maybe the memories help to give them some strength to make it through another day. 'The clouds will come, the wind will blow, and the sun will shine,' and while we may not be able to keep the clouds away, maybe our wishes give a little bit of sunshine along the way.

- Miss Heidi

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Wish Heard "Round the Valley"

Often times, I get asked how and why I started Children’s Wishes & Dreams.  As we launch this new blog, I was asked to tell the story.  Our marketing partner, Culture Kitten, interviewed me in April for all the details.  Below is the story they wrote on how My Wishes & Dreams came to be.  Hope you enjoy!

“The Wish Heard ‘Round The Valley”

You’ve all seen the white sign on the corner of 32nd and Nob Hill that says “Children’s Wishes & Dreams”…but what do they do?  We talked to Founder, Heidi Anderson, to see what inspired her to create this non-profit organization that would grant children their “wishes and dreams.”

A long time dancer, Heidi ran her own dance studio in Yakima for many years.  A very sweet four-year old dance student wanted nothing more than to dance forever.  At this young age, she was diagnosed with leukemia and began the long road of treatments.  Throughout her recovery from chemotherapy, she would wear her Mickey Mouse ears on her head and a mask if needed when counts were low.  Heidi and the girl's mom would arrange for private dance lessons if needed, so she could continue her dancing between treatments.  She loved Mickey Mouse, and dreamt of going to Disneyland to see Mickey!

The leukemia was proving to be quite the defiant dance partner, so the next step was to receive a bone marrow transplant in Seattle.  While the family was away, Heidi and the girl's students and families wanted to do something to help this little girl get to Disneyland – to see HER dream come true.  They planned and orchestrated an original ballet fundraiser called “Snow White and the Eight Dwarfs” – the girl would be represented by the part of the 8th dwarf.  (I bet her name would have been Dancer.)  The ballet was cast, music choreographed, costumes made, and the location was chosen, The Little Theatre at Eisenhower High School.

Opening night was beautiful!  But there was a sad undertone. You see, the day of the performance, the girl gave her final performance and went on to dance in heaven.  

Her mom told Heidi that when they got the news that the transplant did not work, the two of them were in her hospital room just talking.  Since it was a cloudy day in Seattle, her mom began blowing bubbles out the window to help the girl take her mind off of everything.  The little girl, who had such an incredibly positive outlook on life, her family, and dancing, would find something in each and every day that was special.  On this day, she said, “See mom, bubbles look pretty on a cloudy day.”

To remember the girl, Heidi asked everyone to blow bubbles for her at the park the day after the performance.  Sometime later, seeing a display for a wish organization, Heidi said, “That is what I want to do, I want to be able to ensure that no other child’s wish floats away like the bubbles on a cloudy day…” and that began her wish work.

Children’s Wishes & Dreams came 14 years later when she decided to leave another wish organization with the clear goal that the money raised here in Yakima, would stay here for our local children with life-threatening illnesses or severe life-altering conditions.

Children’s Wishes & Dreams is a completely volunteer non-profit organization with a Board of Directors, and since their inception in 2005 they have granted 137 wishes, supported solely by donations from individuals, families and our community businesses.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Jolyssa's Joy

Life Lesson 1.0: Have Fun
Life Lesson 1.1: Make Every Moment Count

Jolyssa is a beautiful, energetic 10-year-old that seems to live by the Life Lessons above.  She has the same wishes and dreams of any young lady - to go shopping, spend time with her friends, laugh, play, sing, dance, swim, wrestle with her brothers, go to school, have fun on the weekends, eat popsicles, and look forward to summer vacation fun!

Recently, she was diagnosed with Gorlin’s Syndrome, also known as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, a condition that affects many areas of the body and increases the risk of developing various cancerous and noncancerous tumors.  Translation:  Jolyssa has to stay out of the sun. With lots of sunscreen, protective clothing, and the loving care of her parents and family, she is leading as normal life as she can.  That’s when we met her and learned of her “wish.”

Her 11th birthday was coming in April and she wished for a chance to go on a fun adventure.  Our team began suggesting some fun ideas and as soon as we mentioned shopping spree, her face lit up!  She had also said that she loves to swim so we thought about the amazing water park at The Great Wolf Lodge that happens to be ALL indoors, and began planning this awesome trip for her and her family.

We wanted to enhance her wish and contacted the Bellevue Square property owner, Kemper Development Company.  Guest Services Manager Extraordinaire, Anna Reis, was instrumental in making arrangements for the generous stores who wanted to be a part of this adventure for Jolyssa.  Anna helped set up many special treats for Jolyssa and her family, including an upgrade to the hotel room for the two-night stay at the upscale Hyatt Regency Bellevue, restaurant gift cards, games, movie passes and much more.  See complete list of contributors below.

From there, the family traveled to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.  The indoor water park has over 56,000 square feet of suspension bridges, water slides, spray stations, and swimming fun for the whole family.

Children’s Wishes & Dreams would like to thank the following contributors to making Jolyssa’s wish come true:  Kemper Development Company, The Hyatt Regency Bellevue, The Bellevue Collection, Escape Outdoors, Top Pot Doughnuts, Koral Kitchen & Bar, Fireworks, Lincoln Square Cinemas, Red Robin, World Wrapps, Baskin Robins, Luck Strike Power Play, Jamba Juice, Lego, Dooz, Cinnabon, Oh! Chocolate, Vera Bradley.

You can see by the photos that they all had a great time!  Jolyssa came in recently to share these pictures and the joy she felt through this wish from Children’s Wishes & Dreams.  It’s who we are and what we do. And we love it!