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DECEMBER 08
DREAM WEAVER
KIDS WISH NETWORK GRANTS WISHES FOR KIDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Kids Wish Network Help The Kids
In 1997, Shelley Breiner, mother of three, convinced her husband to sell their business and honor a promise to make a difference in the lives of children in need. This bold step, informed by her time spent accompanying her cancer-stricken father to his chemotherapy treatments, was an undeniable choice that inspired her to found the Kids Wish Network.

Here, Madeline Robinson, manager of the Kids Wish Network’s Wish Department, talks to THE FAMILY GROOVE about the organization that to date has helped 3,051 children’s dreams come true.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: What is the mission of Kids Wish Network?
MADELINE ROBINSON: Kids Wish Network is dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories and improving the quality of life for children all over the country. We are so very proud to have developed some incredibly unique programs to benefit these kids—not only    children who have life-threatening illnesses, but also those who have endured some really sad circumstances with courage and determination.

TFG: Why and how was the organization started?
MR: Kids Wish Network opened its doors in 1997. The inspiration behind Kids Wish Network began when our executive director’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Shelley Breiner wanted to do something for the kids she saw in the hospital. She started Kids Wish Network as a legacy and in memory of her dad, David Askin. She realized other wish-granting organizations existed but had ideas for important programs and services not being offered by other charities. Within a few short years, the programs we had created were in such demand that Kids Wish Network became national in scope.

TFG: Please tell us about your different programs.
MR: In addition to granting wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, we are excited to be able to bring joy to children all over America through our Holiday of Hope Gift Bank and Hero of the Month programs.

Hero of the MonthThe Hero of the Month program is a really exciting program that was designed to bring smiles to the faces of kids who have been through some really terrible situations. Hospital caregivers are able to nominate one child every month to be their honorary “hero.” Many of these kids may have been in a terrible accident, suffered abuse or severe neglect, or gone through some really frightening medical experiences. But through it all, these children have shown a resilience of spirit that is truly inspiring. When a child is named a hero, he or she is presented with an official certificate, a T-shirt, a gift box full of games and toys, and a gift card valued at between $200 and $500.

Through our Holiday of Hope Gift Bank program, we are able to reach thousands of children all over the country who are entering children’s care facilities or hospitals and are scared and homesick. We ship up to $60,000 worth of brand-new, top-of-the-line toys and games to these facilities to be given to the kids coming in for treatment. It’s a really remarkable program!

TFG: What are the organization’s short-term and long-term goals?
MR: Right now, between our wish kids and our hero kids, we grant approximately 700 wishes per year. We are hoping to soon up that number to 765 for this year. Long-term, we would like to go international and reach up to 2,000 wishes a year, reaching kids spanning the globe. It’s an exciting and challenging goal.

TFG:
What do our readers need to know about the children for whom you grant wishes?
MR: The children we are fortunate enough to help come to us from all different kinds of backgrounds, cultures, economic statuses and families. But they all share one thing in common: They have been through some terribly difficult and painful situations, either facing a serious illness or very trying circumstances, and we are here to bring them some happiness and joy when they need it the most.

TFG: How can our readers make a difference?
MR: Anyone who would like to get involved in helping us with these kids can visit our website and make an in-kind or a financial donation to help sponsor a child’s wish or a hero child. They can also call directly to make a donation over the phone or offer in-kind gifts, including time-shares or commodities that their business or company may manufacture and distribute, such as new computers, pools, etc. We have frequent requests from our wish kids regarding these types of items, and they can often be difficult to get sponsored—any help we can get is most appreciated!

Alexander Dwayne "The Rock" Haddon Halle Berry meets Jaz Kenny Chesney
Alexander Dwayne "The Rock"
Johnson meets Cody
Haddon Halle Berry meets Jaz Kenny Chesney
meets Letitia
         
Happy KWN Smile KWN Makayla Belle Rachael Shaq meets Riley
Happy faces at Kids Wish Network Makayla Belle Rachael Shaq meets Riley

Go to www.kidswishnetwork.org to join the dream-weaving brigade. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of wish-granting services, please call 888.918.9004.

THE FAMILY GROOVE donates a percentage of its revenue to its featured Charity of the Month.

MARSHALL’S STORY
KIDS WISH NETWORK TELLS TFG ABOUT A WHEELY GOOD WISH

A remarkable teenager from Chestertown, Md., recently received a very special gift thanks to his friends at Kids Wish Network. Marshall, a truly courageous teen who is battling a brain tumor, was honored in a special ceremony in the center of town in Walden, N.Y., and was presented with an extraordinary gift: his newly restored 1992 Dodge Dakota.

In January of 2008, Marshall was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma multiforme. His mother, Melinda, learned about Kids Wish Network and submitted his name to the charity. After completing the application process, both mother and son were delighted to learn that Marshall did indeed qualify. Marshall’s Kids Wish Network wish coordinator, Vanessa Covolo, was in charge of making his wish come true. When she asked him what he wanted most for his wish, Marshall didn’t hesitate—he wanted his 1992 Dodge Dakota restored.

Not only was Vanessa able to arrange to have the exterior of Marshall’s truck restored, she was also able to get the interior done, complete with beautiful new upholstery and XM Satellite Radio. Pitching in to donate their time and services were companies from all over the New York area eager to be a part of making Marshall’s wish come true.

Surrounded by people inspired by his story, Marshall was overwhelmed when he first saw his newly restored truck. The crowd cheered and many shed tears as they watched his face light up. It was truly a day no one will soon forget.


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