Make-A-Wish Idaho brings its dedication to spreading hope and joy closer to home with the new Post Falls location
By Taylor Shillam
Make-A-Wish has made its home in Idaho and has hit the ground running with record-breaking impact.
“Make-A-Wish Idaho grants over 100 wishes per year. Last year, we granted 127, a chapter record, and this year, we are looking to grant up to 140," says Josh Peterson, communications manager for Make-A-Wish Idaho. "The state has experienced unprecedented growth, and medical referrals are up by 100 percent, another record.”
Make-A-Wish Idaho finished 2023 counting down to another major milestone: granting their 2,000th wish. "We're very excited to reach this milestone," Josh shared in late November. "We are currently counting down on social media, and if all goes according to plan, our 2,000th wish should be [completed] on December 30, 2023, the day our 2,000th wish family returns home from Disney World."
Josh says Make-A-Wish is “absolutely thrilled” to now have an office in Post Falls, serving the wish kids and families of North Idaho. "Having a presence in the community will increase referrals of children to our program, bringing the magic of a wish into their lives.
"Wishes provide an emotional bulwark against the mental trauma that stems from having a childhood critical illness. They provide hope and joy during a frightening, isolating and painful ordeal," Josh continues. "According to the 2022 National Wish Impact Survey, wishes help relieve traumatic stress, act as a coping mechanism during treatment, bring families closer together and improve the child's medical compliance. The majority of wish kids survive their qualifying illnesses, and a wish often provides important closure to their medical journey and allows families to reunite and heal outside of a medical setting."
Most children are referred to Make-A-Wish Idaho by a physician, a social worker or a family member. “A medical board reviews their referral and determines eligibility, and if they are eligible, they receive a wish.” Children must be between the ages of 2 1/2 and under 18 years old at the time of referral.
Josh says granting a wish is an effort that takes the entire community.
“Volunteer wish granters work hard to ensure wishes are tailored to the specific desires of the child and that the wish feels special,” he shares. “Just last week, a child named Ronan, who loves Star Wars, received a wonderful surprise when a squadron of Star Wars cosplay actors showed up in professional Star Wars costuming at a local family fun center and told Ronan that his wish to go to Disneyland was coming true.
"Ronan said that the wish reveal ‘was the best day of his life,’” Josh shares. “We’re hoping that Disneyland can top it, though!”
Josh credits Make-a-Wish volunteers for sprinkling in the extra magic. “The staff handles the logistics of making sure that families get to Disneyland safely, books their hotels and flights, coordinates with their medical professionals, and deals with the rare travel hiccup.”
Josh says the wishes also wouldn’t be possible without donations from the Idaho community, Make-A-Wish Idaho receives no government funding and is completely powered by small-dollar donations, event fundraising, corporate sponsorships and grants.
Community members can get involved in supporting Make-A-Wish by donating to Make-A-Wish Idaho, volunteering as a wish granter and working with families as they look forward to their wish, and hosting a benefit event. With Make-A-Wish close to home, it's now easier than ever to impact a local child's life.
To learn more about Make-A-Wish Idaho, visit Wish.org/idaho.