Behind The Wish - Sarah Fox

Meet Sarah Fox - a passionate volunteer with the Hobart Branch.

For more than two years, Sarah Fox has played key roles in the Hobart Branch.

Behind The Wish is our series of inspirational reads diving into the everyday superheroes involved in creating life-changing wishes.


Sarah gets down on one knee to propose

I grew up in Launceston with mum, dad and two siblings. I had a great childhood; I was very lucky. Did lots of extra-curricular activities; sport, music, all sorts of things. It was really good.

I did a law degree, my first year in Launceston and I moved to Hobart for the rest. I have been down here in Hobart 13 years now or something like that.

My future husband Sam and I were both living at accommodation for uni students and it’s a bit of a meeting spot, a lot of my friends met their partners there as well.

Monday night was pub night for the students so we just got chatting one night. We are both happy to just chill with each other, we don’t have to be doing things all the time.

We definitely have the same values and same interests. We both highly value our family and friends.

We were together for coming up to 10 years – it must have been 2019 – I decided if he hadn’t decided by June then I would start looking for rings and propose.

So, July 1 I started looking for rings, and bought some rings then in September.

One of my friends is a photographer – so I pretended she needed help with a photo shoot up on the mountain so I got him up at sunrise and we went up Mount Wellington and I had been rehearsing my speech all week. I hadn’t slept all week.

When we started driving up it said the top of the mountain was shut because of the weather.

And I was like ‘it’s happening, whether it’s on the side of the road … I haven’t slept for a week and I can’t go any longer’.

We got to the springs lookout and it was quite difficult to get him out of the car, he’s not an early morning person and it was 5.30am or something.

He was like ‘let’s wait for our friend to get here before we get out of the car’ and I’m like ‘no let’s go and have a look at the view’.

So, he begrudgingly got out of the car, we walked over to the view and he was half-asleep, he had no idea what was going on. There was a man there with his three daughters and I went over there pretending I saw him drop his keys and I just asked him to take a photo of what I was going to do. Sam was completely unaware. I went back and proposed to Sam as the sun was coming up and this man got a photo of it.

And his daughters gave us a round of applause. That was quite cool.

I got down on my knee and asked him and he said ‘absolutely’ so it was a good response. When I started saying nice things, he looked at me thinking ‘what is going on’.

I think he is still waiting for a photo shoot, but the whole thing was a ruse!

We were meant to get married in 2021 but COVID meant family from New Zealand couldn’t come and we had siblings in Melbourne, but we got married in October 2022.


Putting others first and volunteering

I joined Make-A-Wish early in 2021 so I have been a volunteer for a couple of years. Cam Scott, who has been the Branch president, went to school with me. He was in the grade below me at primary school. It was a few years ago when I first started thinking about Make-A-Wish.

I had just come back from overseas and was working in a government job and seemed to have a little more free time after work and wanted to get into some volunteer work.

I got talking to Cam after a few drinks at a fundraising event one night and that was that. I told him I was looking to do something and he said, ‘well come over to Make-A-Wish’.

I had been to a couple of Make-A-Wish fundraisers before, a quiz night and a night at the races. I had heard their impact stories before so I didn’t take much convincing because I knew about Make-A-Wish. Then after talking to Cam, I was in!

I think Cam sells it very easily because he’s so passionate about it and I have seen that with all the effort he’s put into events and just when he talks about it, it just beams through him.

It has turned out different to how I imagined, but in a good way. I think with a lot of volunteering things you don’t realise how hands on it can be. With Make-A-Wish you actually get to have that contact with the children and the families. I think that pulls at the heart strings and its very inspiring to see the kids.

Their attitude is just amazing. I feel like we get old and grumpy over life but they actually have been dealt such a hard hand and they are still so happy and so full of optimism.

It definitely puts things into perspective.

I guess growing up I had always wanted to do something jobwise where I could help other people and became a lawyer in mostly property and commercial.

There is obviously job satisfaction and everything but I think when I was growing up, I was thinking more like I will be a doctor and help people but I can’t stand blood so that was never going to happen.

Since I was young, I always wanted to do something where I could help people and give back.

At the end of high school, I did some volunteer work helping with food vans and went to a less fortunate school and did some work there and mingled with the students. I think a few things like that along the way have made me want to do charity work.

Life gets busy and we put ourselves first for a long time but it just seemed the right time to give up some of my TV time to do something worthwhile.


Inspired by wish children

When I started with the Hobart Branch, I joined the wishes just as an observer, which is amazing as you get on a wish with a couple of vols who have done it for years.

And if you are on a wish with someone like Robyn Moore, she absolutely lights up the room and the children’s faces.

She has this way of bringing so much hope to them.

The thing with a lot of the older volunteers is they have been doing it so long and they have really got a way of sifting through and figuring out what the child really wants.

The conversation might start in one way but when they begin digging into what the child really likes something else often emerges.

Having the benefit of learning from the older volunteers is a really good way to start.

A while ago I put my hand up to be the Hobart Wish Granting Coordinator.

So that means when a wish comes in from national office, I get to contact the family and introduce myself and the Hobart Branch. Let them know how excited we are to be on the Wish Journey with them and let them know the branch’s role is to capture the wish.

Then I allocate the team leader and team member for the wish, then they contact the family to organise the wish visit which is either by Zoom or in-person.

I get the overview of the wishes. The status updates to see where they are at.

I am lucky because that role is the nice stuff. You get to see the wishes come to fruition. We just had a couple of wishes. A puppy wish. I have also helped a little bit with the PR comms team.

That has been really cool as I get to see the wish stories come through that sometimes go to the media. It’s nice to hear all the good stories.

Make-A-Wish is amazing.

Like I said, when you speak to the children knowing what they’ve gone through it’s just incredible.

You can’t really put it into words. It’s just so inspiring.

I have had a few boys who are older teenagers and they are obviously very aware of everything but they are still so polite, so friendly, so optimistic, they’ll say ‘I’m fine’. I don’t know if they are fine. I don’t think they are in terms of everything they have been through.

I couldn’t even contemplate all the treatments they face and the impairments they are still living with.

When you catch up with a friend or family member and you say ‘how’s your day, how’s your week’ you’re going to sometimes get ‘it’s been good’ but we all share and say ‘oh it’s been crap, this happened and that happened’ but you have these children who have had truly awful weeks, months and years and they say ‘yeah I am good, I am all right’ and they still treasure the small things and they’ll tell you something exciting they did that week.

For most people it might not be anything extraordinary but them getting to do that thing again – like participating in something at school or going down to an event at Salamanca – things that we take for granted. They are just so appreciative of everything, and appreciative of what Make-A-Wish is doing. The parents are always saying how excited they are to be having this opportunity.

Another thing I have noticed with all the children is they always want their wish to benefit their loved ones as well. You can just tell they want to do something with their families. It’s not all me, me, me: it’s us.

They are incredibly special kids. They are ahead of many of us adults.


Sarah's own little wish comes true

I have only had to do a handful of calls but the parents are usually so excited for their children.

Their children are so excited so its very special to have that small touch at the start of the wish journey for those children.

They have already had the news delivered from the national office and they already know they are getting the wish. They might have already received the wish pack in the mail but they are still on that high and they say, ‘this is a wonderful opportunity for our child’ and it just brings hope and excitement.

It just re-iterates how important what we do is. It just feels special and I feel very lucky to help in just a tiny way.

It puts you on a high, it’s like at Christmas you get more happiness from giving than receiving.

It’s Make-A-Wish giving them this incredibly special gift but I am lucky enough to be involved, wear the Make-A-Wish top and be a small part of it.

You just see the hope and the anticipation and for many of them it seems life-changing at that point in time.

At our monthly meetings, you hear about other people’s wishes that have been completed and you see the videos and pictures of the pure joy in what is otherwise a really hard time for them. It’s hearing those stories from volunteers and what an impact the wishes have.

One of our branch members was a wish child so you can see the long-lasting effect it has.

You see these children going through a worse time than I have been through in my entire life and they still have the absolute best outlook, the best attitude.

They treat everyone around them so well. You only ever hear the best things about them from their parents.

The way they are like ‘here, meet my sibling’. It is just inspiring and being involved has cemented why I wanted to join in the first place.

For them to be so grateful and appreciative, if I can play a tiny role and have an impact then I am more than happy to do so.

It is really special to be part of the Wish Force.

You see what so many of the volunteers do and the impact they have you feel like you haven’t earned your stripes yet. When you hear the stories, you feel so privileged to play a small part. I think you have to earn your stripes to wear that blue Make-A-Wish t-shirt because it means a lot.

All the conversations you have with the children, they are so special. They absolutely sit with you and stay with you.

I think it’s life-changing for the families and wish kids, but also for the volunteers and anyone else who gets to attend a fundraiser and hear the stories from someone like Robyn. That sits with you.

I think it’s the volunteers that make Hobart Branch unique. When I started everyone was so willing to help you. It’s definitely a team and there are so many volunteers with so much experience and you can see how truly special it is to them.

When they talk to you and tell you their wish children stories, they just beam, they inspire us and make us all want to do so much.

I went to the colour splash on Father’s Day. It was my first one and it was absolutely awesome. Wish children go. Jo Hazell, when she’s preparing it, she is absolutely beaming. They put their heart into everything and it rubs off on the other volunteers, to the people attending an event. It’s a very special group at the Hobart Branch.

Update: In June, 2023, Sarah gave birth to her first child, Xavier. Sarah continues her role in the Hobart Make-A-Wish branch and Xavier has even attended a few Make-A-Wish events!

Sarah has been a proud volunteer since 2021