Donor stories

Explore the stories of some of our donors below, and find out why they've chosen to be part of the #WishForce - in their own words.

Meet Frank and Helen, lifetime supporters

Frank and Helen have been here since the beginning, joining Make-A-Wish as founding members of our Adelaide volunteer branch back in 1986, just as things were getting started.

The world has changed a lot since then, with their own family growing up and grandchildren coming along. However they've never lost their passion for seeing wishes come true, giving endless time and support - and even making a bequest in their will - as their lasting legacy to sick Australian children.

Frank explains why their support will continue, even beyond their lifetime.

Back in January 1986, my then-business partner John and I were considering joining some type of community group. We heard (Australian co-founder) Evelyn Rigbye speaking about the newly-formed Make-A-Wish Foundation on the radio one morning. As we were both members of the Life Underwriters Association, who were backing Make-A-Wish at the time, we thought it would be a natural fit.

Together, John and I founded the Adelaide branch and some 30-odd years later, Helen and I are still here!

My wife Helen and I have five healthy children, not to mention some beautiful grandchildren. We count our blessings, and originally got involved because we wanted very much to give to families whose children were not healthy like ours.

Helping families of children with a life-threatening medical condition is an incredibly humbling experience. Strangers open their doors and look forward to our working a bit of 'magic' into the lives of their children (and siblings).

Make-A-Wish has taught us not to take anything for granted; it only takes an event or change in health to turn your world upside down.

It’s difficult to choose one in particular... all wishes are amazing, that’s what Make-A-Wish is about!

Even the difficult ones leave me feeling like I’ve done something special for our wish children and their families.

There's one wish from almost 20 years ago that sticks with me - for a very sick 16 year old girl who wished to see a rainforest.

We had everything arranged for her visit in May, but one Monday in March, her specialist called and said, "Frank, her condition is deteriorating rapidly. If she's going, she needs to leave tomorrow."

Well, it wasn't easy, but we made it happen. The very next morning, Make-A-Wish had the family on a flight to the Gold Coast so her wish could come true.

Even though she struggled with her health during the trip, the family was able to spend such cherished moments together that otherwise wouldn't have been possible.

Just days later, she was gone.

This was incredibly heart-wrenching and I still find it emotional to share that story.

Sure. Quite a few years back now, Helen and I were updating our wills. With Make-A-Wish being such an important part of our lives, we wanted to leave something behind, to grant even more wishes and provide those unforgettable moments, life-long memories and much needed support for this special cause.

We spoke to our children first - we've got five children, and naturally they will eventually be beneficiaries of our estate. It was important that they were comfortable with us including Make-A-Wish, too - and yes, they are very happy with our decision.

Our bequest will be a percentage of our estate. As a financial planner by trade, I believe this is a realistic and fair way to make a meaningful contribution, while also ensuring our family is provided for. There is certainty for all those involved, and it has the benefit of keeping our intended contribution in step with inflation and any changes to our estate's total value over time.

For us, it's also a way of providing an ongoing memory of us and the cause that is close to our hearts. Our own family will have the comfort of knowing that, through this special gift, their mum and dad's support for Make-A-Wish will continue beyond our own lifetimes.

It’s a huge part of my and Helen’s life - I’m sure life would be very different without it.

Apart from our family; our work, church and Make-A-Wish are all very precious to us and form the core around which our lives have been built.

We’ve made many friends through Make-A-Wish and it’s one of a small number of charities that we regularly donate to.

The power of a wish isn't just amazing, it’s irresistible!

Make-A-Wish has taught us not to take anything for granted; it only takes an event or change in health to turn your world upside down.

Frank

Charmaine was inspired by a special wish

Charmaine is a long-serving volunteer with no sign of slowing down.

She shares the life-changing impact Make-A-Wish has had on her own life, along with countless others over more than 25 years.

Children have always been in my life. I’ve been a babysitter, a teacher, and I’ve got many, many cousins. I also lost two siblings at a young age, so from the moment I heard about Make-A-Wish, its purpose just resonated with me.

When my mother spoke about my two siblings - she remembered the good things that happened, the special memories.

I wanted to be part of creating those memories for others - so I become a volunteer and a donor!

All wishes are special, but it was one teenager's wish that affected me deeply.

Daniel, a keen surfer and American football fan who was fighting cancer at the time, wished to see a live gridiron game and surf the revered Hawaiian Banzai pipeline.

In a letter shared with donors, Daniel wrote about the amazing moment his wish came true:

"Watching the unrelenting powerful waves overwhelmed me. Every emotion seemed to flood over me at once. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. The surfers completed the scene... Trying to soak it all in was very hard and it gave off a sense of un-realness. It made me feel very special to be part of the picture... And remember, always keep your chin up as dreams really do come true."

Daniel's wish left an imprint on my own life, and my heart, forever. Every time I think of Daniel, I am reminded of what Make-A-Wish can give to seriously ill children.

That's why I included a gift in my will - my lawyer asked if I wanted to include any bequests to charity, and I immediately thought of Make-A-Wish. I think it's a lovely way to help more sick children like Daniel by making their wishes come true.

When you love what you are doing, you seem to find the time!

It’s easier now I am retired, but I’m also busier now than when I volunteered and had a full-time job.

Prioritising and learning how to say no (every now and then) is important.

Quite simply, I would not be the person I am today without Make-A-Wish.

My years as a volunteer have graced me with a new family – other branch volunteers have become my family as we work towards a common goal.

I've no doubt that it has made me a more 'rounded' person. I have developed skills I never thought I would be capable of - like fundraising, talking to very large groups of people, and meeting and working with a diverse and broad range of people.

Some 25 years ago, I was a shy person, rarely putting myself in a situation where I wasn’t comfortable.

Wanting to do more for wish children and their families pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I learned to ‘just do it’, as the saying goes. It gives me so much joy to know I am 'a cog in the wheel', making life better for children.

I wanted to be part of creating those memories for others - so I become a volunteer and a donor!

Charmaine