"Wishes bring the whole community together - that’s why we are the most inspiring charity in Australia." Meet Robyn Moore - cancer survivor, long-serving Make-A-Wish volunteer and National Patron.
Robyn first got involved with Make-A-Wish when she recorded an ad for us in the early 1990s - using her Blinky Bill voice! The fun-loving Tasmanian soon became a volunteer with the Hobart branch, with an ongoing passion and commitment for Make-A-Wish that is nothing but inspirational.
After more than 27 years of supporting and granting wishes, Robyn has so many memories of wish kids she’s cried 'happy tears' over - including young Scarlett who saw a unicorn fly, teenager Aaron who saw Arsenal play in Sydney and refugee Surjen who met the Australian PM to thank him for his medical treatment.
Robyn was inducted into the Make-A-Wish Australia Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2015, and is also an International Make-A-Wish Volunteer of the Year winner.
My first contact with Make-A-Wish was in 1992 when I recorded a commercial for a Make-A-Wish fundraising walk, using my Blinky voice. The walk raised $14,000 and the experience left an indelible mark!
I became a volunteer with my local Hobart branch, but yearned to do more. My background as a professional speaker gave me the platform to share 'the power of a wish' more broadly.
Since then, I've probably reached hundreds of thousands of people through my speaking engagements.
I tell people that wishes make the impossible possible, and the ordinary extraordinary!
My first wish experience as a volunteer was meeting 7-year-old Kayde.
Recovering from a kidney transplant, Kayde wished for a quad bike. Tragically, just before his wish, Kayde lost his father, grandad and brother in a terrible fishing accident.
We waited until his mum gave the green light to go ahead with the wish. And when we arrived in a convoy of wish-themed cars, with Kayde's bright red quad bike on the back of a ute, it was a huge surprise.
Dressed in his new leather bike gear, Kayde had a lesson and then instantly jumped on the bike, riding it around the paddock like a champion.
And in that moment I got it – goodness it’s 27 years ago and I’m still moved – I was taking photos of him on the bike, and he said to me ‘aren’t you going to take a photo of the sunset’?
I was focused on taking his photo, and he was present to the beautiful sunset behind me.
It was staggering for me. This little boy just lost three members of his family. I thought most adults couldn’t handle this grief, but a little leather-clad ‘warrior’ was present and enlivened by his wish.
This is part of what we call the ‘wish impact’.
After meeting Kayde, I was 100% in as a wish granter!
I was a guest speaker for Make-A-Wish America's 35th anniversary celebrations in 2015 - and when I came off stage, I got a hug from Linda Pauling, Tommy Austin and two other men who helped grant the wish of Linda’s then 7-year-old son Chris to be a policeman back in 1980.
This was the wish that sparked the establishment of Make-A-Wish as first a local then global movement.
Tommy leant into my ear, and whispered, 'You get it'.
For me, that was the moment I realised how much Make-A-Wish had become part of my life. I thought, Make-A-Wish is in every cell of my body and it means so much to me for Tommy – one of the pioneers of Make-A-Wish - to recognise that.
My belief is that volunteers get much more back than they actually give. When you give as a volunteer, your attention is off yourself. So, volunteerism enables you to surrender your own ego and give to others.
Volunteering for Make-A-Wish, the experience for me - it's transformed and reframed my whole life.
In part, I think it’s waking up to the fragility of life.
One of the quotes I use often is ‘live with urgency before the emergency’. I live like that now because the children and their families have inspired me.
When I had breast cancer nine years ago, the wish children inspired me throughout my treatment. Reflecting on the countless treatments, procedures, tests, hospital stays, separation and disruption our wish families and children endure - I just thought ‘what am I grumbling about, I am just having 38 radiation treatments’ - which paled into insignificance next to the hundreds of procedures most wish children have.
When it comes to helping sick children, to me - no is not an option. When our volunteers first visit a child, and make a commitment to capture and deliver their wish, we give them a wish coin. In that moment we become ‘promise keepers’.
Now some children sleep with the coin under the pillow, while others wear it around their neck. When they are in hospitals having treatment, some just hold onto the coin and it helps to transport them beyond their illness.
Families report that looking forward to the wish helps their child respond better to treatment. And when wishes happen, that's the final piece of the puzzle.
Our wishes help children and their families transcend the uncertainty, anguish and relentless challenges faced after their child is diagnosed with a critical illness.
Each wish not only profoundly impacts our children, but their families and everyone who is touched by the story.
Wishes often bring together our staff, volunteers, corporate partners and the whole community - that’s why we are the most inspiring charity in Australia. Everyone who participates in wish-granting becomes part of our #WishForce!
Robyn ‘gets’ it – she listens to people, speaks from the heart and knows how to really connect with children and adults alike.Sally Bateman - CEO Make-A-Wish Australia