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Granting wishes: Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties offers hope to children with life-threatening illnesses 

Evan Price, of Grover Beach, was dealt a tough hand.

Born with rare spinal and kidney disorders, Evan was in and out of the hospital as a child. He endured 10 surgeries and faced an uncertain future.

While characteristically brave and positive, his mother remembers one difficult stint in the hospital where Evan gave away the emotional toll of his illness.

“In the hospital, that was when I really saw him discouraged,” said Cindy Price, his mother. “There’s a lot of despair when you have a child with a life-threatening illness.”

click to enlarge HOPE, STRENGTH, JOY:  Little Paige receives her wish of a new dog. Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties grants wishes for children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish grants 20 wishes every year in SLO County and is in need of donations from the public. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION OF THE TRI-COUNTIES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION OF THE TRI-COUNTIES
  • HOPE, STRENGTH, JOY: Little Paige receives her wish of a new dog. Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties grants wishes for children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish grants 20 wishes every year in SLO County and is in need of donations from the public.

On one of those difficult days, a nurse recommended that Cindy reach out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties, a nonprofit that grants any wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition on the Central Coast.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants 20 children in SLO County wishes every year. Shanna Taylor, CEO of Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, said that every kid’s wish is unique, but each has a meaningful impact.

“A wish gives a child something positive to look forward to,” Taylor said. “What we’ve learned is that wishes provide hope, strength, and joy to families.”

Evan’s wish took some time to formulate, which is not uncommon. The Prices patiently waited.

When Evan was 8, he unknowingly proclaimed his wish: He wanted to take his family to New York City. A fan of the weather and the Today show, which he’d watch getting ready for school in the morning, Evan dreamed of meeting weatherman Al Roker.

“I thought, ‘Wow, now we have a wish in the making,’” Cindy recalled.

Make-A-Wish took care of the logistics. With the plane tickets booked, an emergency medical plan in place, and Al Roker waiting, Evan and his family embarked on the trip. He made an appearance on the Today show, broadcasting to America the weather for the day.

“To this day, the experience brings such happy memories to Evan,” Cindy said. “Make-A-Wish just comes along and helps the family to feel hope—something that’s desperately needed when you’re feeling so down.”

The journey of a wish involves more than just one fun experience for a family. A wish is an imaginative and powerful concept that becomes part of the treatment plan, Taylor said.

“If the child knows their wish is coming, they are better about doing what they have to do to get better,” Taylor said. “Over and over again people tell us, wishes really matter. They’re not just a nice extra thing. They can be game-changers for kids.”

Today, Evan lives a stable adult life in a wheel chair. Cindy and her husband currently volunteer at Make-A-Wish as “wish granters” and community reps for SLO County. They visit prospective families and ask children what their dream wish might be.

“It’s pretty amazing for us,” Cindy said. “We feel super honored to meet some of these incredible families.”

A wish that comes true feels like magic to children, but orchestrating the wishes takes enormous effort and resources behind the scenes.

In the process of granting a wish, Make-A-Wish offers gifts for every sibling in the family, and provides backpacks and suitcases, travel activities—and most expensive—plane tickets.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is asking for the public’s help in sustaining the operation through gift donations. 

“Right now, we could really use more backpacks and toys for elementary school-aged kids,” Taylor said. “Anything Frozen right now is great.”

New Times is temporarily serving as a drop-off location for gift donations on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Drop by our offices with your donation at 1010 Marsh St. in San Luis Obispo.

Make-a-Wish also accepts gifts for teens, gift cards, iPods, and gift bags. Gifts must be new and unwrapped.

Fast Fact 

SLO County announced it received grant from the California HealthCare Foundation on Dec. 8, one of 12 given to counties in the state, to help address the misuse of prescription painkillers.

Intern Peter Johnson wrote this week’s Strokes. Contact him at pjohnson@newtimesslo.com.

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