Six-year-old Hanna is one of dozens of local children whose Make-A-Wish request has been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The youngster from Bridgeville loves all things Disney, especially The Descendants and Pluto, and was supposed to travel to Disney World for a week in May with her parents and 9-year-old sister Bella.
Summer is the big season for Make-A-Wish – when wishes come true for thousands of sick or disabled children across the country.
Hanna qualified for her wish because of a nervous system disorder she has – one which required extensive surgery last year. She now requires the use of a wheelchair.
More than 60 sick children battling critical illnesses eagerly looking forward to the warmer months, when many would have embarked on the trip of a lifetime granted by the local chapter of Make-A-Wish.
But as the COVID-19 crisis forces the closure of schools, restaurants and theme parks, Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley is facing the prospect of having to postpone the wishes of children up and down the state and in the region. The organization is now working double-time to fulfill wishes in new ways or reschedule trips and experiences.
More than 80% of wishes involve travel or large gatherings.
Hanna’s condition doesn’t let that stop her – her favorite hobby is riding her wheelchair around the house. When she’s outside, she likes to catch butterflies and explore. She doesn’t understand why her trip to Disney now won’t happen next month – her parents say she’s too young to understand the impact of the virus.
So they’re trying to come up with other ways to keep her positive and celebrate how far she’s come later this summer when the pandemic restrictions have eased.
Make-A-Wish says research shows that children who have wishes granted can build physical and emotional strength to fight their illnesses.
The local chapter grants nearly 200 wishes every year – everything from trips to Disney World to introducing kids to their favorite celebrity.
The average value of a wish for the local chapter is $11,000.
The foundation says they are still granting wishes whenever possible. For those who have to wait, Make-A-Wish has started a “Messages of Hope” campaign on social media.
“We’re asking everyone to say something to our amazing wish kids and let them know that there’s a community of people that is there for them,” said Frances Hall, a spokesperson at Make-A-Wish America.
To share your message with wish kids, tag the foundation with @MakeAWishPHL and use the hashtag, #WishesAreWaiting.
Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley is also hosting a virtual Giving Week from April 22 to 29 to raise funds to support the wishes of Hanna and the 64 other children in their chapter waiting for their wishes.
The goal for Giving Week is to raise $100,000 for local wishes waiting. Any Facebook fundraisers created to benefit Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley within this timeframe will go towards their Giving Week total.
“Wish kids and their families need us to keep them hopeful now more than ever,” said Make-A-Wish local chapter president Dennis Heron.