Posted Monday 16 July 2012
Emma with 18-month-old Benjamin.
Make-A-Wish® Australia staff member, Emma, shares her first experience of delivering a Wish Hamper.
As soon as the email appeared, I knew by the title that it was something special. It read “Who wants to present a Wish Hamper?” I instantly replied with “ME! ME! ME!”
Shortly after my eager response it was confirmed that I was lucky enough, along with two other staff members, Sue and Alison, to be delivering a fantastic Make-A-Wish® toy hamper to a special young boy.
We were told that 18 month-old Benjamin had been diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. We were also told that we now had the huge responsibility of making this Wish Hamper delivery as special as possible!
The first step was to contact Benjamin’s mother, Elizabeth, to determine when this was all going to take place. Together we decided on Friday 6 July. Speaking with Elizabeth, I also discovered that Benjamin is a huge Wiggles fan so this gave us a great idea for the presentation... but more on that later!
Next on the list was something I have always wanted to do - it was time to raid the Make-A-Wish toy cupboard! Sue, Alison and I all tapped into our ‘inner child’ and picked out the best toys for Benjamin. We packed as much as we could into a hamper and then wrapped up a few bigger toys. Now we had to turn our attention to planning for the big day.
The Wiggles cupcakes made especially for Benjamin.
My lovely friend Amy is a whiz when it comes to cupcakes. She makes some incredible and very edible beauties, so when it came to creating some special Wiggles cupcakes; I knew she would be the perfect person to make it happen.
With the date set, cupcakes ordered and toys packed, it was time to organise the pièce de résistance. To do this we had to call in a favour with our special friend, Dorothy the Dinosaur. With a little help from our wonderful Melbourne Branch Volunteer, Lawrie Leeman, we were able to get Dorothy to make a special appearance for Benjamin’s presentation.
Finally Friday arrived and we were ready and raring to go. The cupcakes looked sensational, presents were packed in the car and Dorothy the Dinosaur had done a test run around the Make-A-Wish National Office.
Elizabeth warned us that Benjamin might get a bit teary when he saw all of us; she explained that he has met lots of new people lately, and with ongoing tests and treatments not all of those occasions had turned out to be happy.
Benjamin couldn't believe Dorothy was in his house.
We arrived at the family home and were greeted by Benjamin’s loving family. From here we had to carefully guide Dorothy down the hall, where we were met with young Benjamin’s shocked face, eyes wide and mouth gaping – there was a Dinosaur in his house! After introductions we all sat down and started helping Benjamin unwrap his presents. Every few seconds he looked up to make sure Dorothy was still there, he would then point excitedly and say “Dinosaur.”
Elizabeth and Benjamin’s dad, Tim, could not believe how happy their son was. He was more than happy to have hugs with Alison and myself and of course with Dorothy.
Benjamin’s grandfather told us all about the discovery of Benjamin’s illness and the tough journey that has followed. He said there are friends and family all over the world who are concerned with his wellbeing. It was inspiring to see the level of support and strength this family has.
The cupcakes were a huge hit with Benjamin.
I was so pleased that the cupcakes were a hit, especially with Benjamin. He couldn’t get enough of the colourful, glittery, wiggly goodness in his mouth. Although the majority of it ended up all over his face, I’m sure he tasted how amazing they were.
After a quick clean up it was time for a dance. Elizabeth put on the Wiggles and gave Dorothy the opportunity to show us her dance moves. It was so funny watching Benjamin trying to comprehend how Dorothy was on the screen AND dancing next to him!
When it was time to go I didn’t want to put Benjamin down. He was so incredibly cute. Such a happy and beautiful young boy, the only tell-tale sign that he was sick was his little, purple lips. We all reluctantly said our goodbyes. Before we got in the car, Benjamin’s grandad thanked us for coming and said, “You have brought a lot of happiness to this house today.” That was a goose-bump moment; we all left with big goofy smiles on our faces and with our cheeks sore from laughter. What an amazing day.
I have been working at Make-A-Wish in Supporter Care and Engagement for almost a year now. Like many of the staff, I often get caught up in the day to day demands of my role, and sometimes feel a little removed from the wishes our wonderful organisation grants. For this reason presenting Benjamin’s Wish Hamper was such an elating and important experience to be part of. I was able to see first-hand the difference Make-A-Wish makes to not only the wish child, but their loving family too. It really brought home why we are all here. I will never forget it.
Thank you to Lawrie again for your help, to Amy for the cupcakes and my partners in this experience Alison and Sue (aka Dorothy!).
(Left) Benjamin opens his presents. (Center & Right) Dorothy made a special trip to deliver Benjamin with his Wish Hamper.
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Make-A-Wish® Australia grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.