BY DYLAN DACOSTA
Kitchener’s streets were filled with walkers on Oct. 13 as people came out in force to support a good cause, Kitchener’s Wishmaker Walk for Wishes.
Approximately 300 “Wishmakers” took part in a walk around the streets of Kitchener near the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex to help raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada (also known as Children’s Wish.)
Children’s Wish aims to provide children living with life-threatening illnesses with the chance to have their wish granted and enjoy something that will increase their happiness.
These wishes come in three categories; travel, item or celebrity. Once a child has had her case medically approved, she gets to choose a wish in any of the three categories. The cost of a wish, on average, is about $10,000, making fundraisers such as the Wishmaker Walk for Wishes all the more important.
Wade Cullen and his family attended the walk – their sixth time now – and they know the importance of raising funds for ill children.
The walks became more important to the family when their daughter became sick. The experience of having to take her in and out of hospitals opened the family’s eyes toward children who were struggling with illness.
“It’s hard to look at kids who are really sick and not feel sympathy,” said Cullen. “Seeing what some of these kids go through made us feel like helping out.”
At the end of the walk, all of the participants went back to their starting location, the Kiwanis twin-pad at the auditorium complex, to celebrate.
Participants were served lunch and snacks, but the celebration was also emotional and featured multiple speakers, one of which was a family who experienced first-hand the importance of Children’s Wish.
“The emotion that is exhibited at the event is just unbelievable,” said Anne Boehm, regional specialist for Children’s Wish in Kitchener and also organizer of the event. “It is especially emotional for the families who have lost a child to a serious illness.”
Every year there are thousands of Canadians between the ages of three and 17 who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, and since 1984, Children’s Wish has granted over 18,000 wishes.
The event is of great importance to Children’s Wish – it is the largest of their national fundraisers. The walk has a direct effect on how many children actually get the opportunity to have their wishes granted.
The Ontario branch of the organization has over 500 pending wishes, 74 of which are from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. These kids are depending on the success of Kitchener’s event.
Boehm hopes this year’s walk will raise around $25,000, which would be up from last year’s total of $23,000. She urges more people to come out and participate in future walks.
“Nobody is ever sorry to come out,” said Boehm. “When people come they say that they can’t believe how amazing the day is.”
BY DYLAN DACOSTA