The COVID-19 pandemic is difficult in many ways. Each person has their own struggles, and for children with critical illnesses, the added isolation can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, even during these challenging times, Make-A-Wish® employees and volunteers are committed to granting every possible wish that is safe to complete, something only made possible by the continued support of generous donors and helpful organizations who believe in the hope and joy that a wish experience brings.
Brooklyn’s leukemia battle
Brooklyn, from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2 in January 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. “It hit hard for our home, our family,” says Brooklyn’s mom, Brandi. “It is hard to grasp that a little girl that just started life was having this huge battle now.”
While focused on fighting Brooklyn’s cancer, the family wanted to maintain as much normalcy for her as possible. Brooklyn is an active and social child, so that meant playing outside as much as possible, and she loved to visit local parks and playgrounds. Unfortunately, the escalating global pandemic and her ongoing cancer treatments made this impossible.
“We knew that with COVID, we weren’t going to be going out much anywhere due to the high risk,” says Brandi.
Brooklyn’s wish: A day of hope and joy
Brooklyn desired to play outdoors and stay active just like any other young child, despite her cancer treatments. She wished for a play structure in her backyard so she could play freely and safely without the increased risk she’d encounter at public properties.
Make-A-Wish began plans to make Brooklyn’s wish come true but needed to overcome obstacles to bring Brooklyn the hope and joy she very much deserved. Unfortunately, at first COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions in the Bay Area prohibited construction projects like Brooklyn’s play structure. Eventually, staff were able to plan a safe and socially distanced construction plan. The play structure was ordered and delivered and volunteers, including staff members from Bristol Myers Squibb, a national corporate supporter of Make-A-Wish, were ready to put it together.
Then, in the days before assembly was due to begin, major fires broke out across northern California, and the project had to be postponed once again, this time due to very unhealthy air quality. However, thanks to the persistence and flexibility of all involved, in September 2020, Brooklyn’s play structure was revealed and she now enjoys spending full afternoons playing outside.
Support for wishes
The support of donors likes you as well as generous partner organizations allow Make-A-Wish to continue to grant wishes, even during the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bristol Myers Squibb is one of these organizations, having donated more than $3.5 million since 2016, including a charitable donation of $500,000 in 2020.
“We know the role hope can play in the treatment of children affected by critical illness and we continue to be inspired by Make-A-Wish and their mission of granting life-changing wishes that bring a renewed sense of energy and fight to pediatric patients and their families,” says Brent Pfeiffenberger, senior vice president, head of US Oncology, Bristol Myers Squibb.
When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. “If you can find something fun for them, then they have something to look forward to after hard days. It is wonderful. It is priceless,” says Brandi.
Despite the worldwide health crisis that COVID-19 has caused, Make-A-Wish continues to find creative ways to deliver ongoing hope and inspiration to wish kids who are waiting for their wish to come true. Even in these challenging times, staff and volunteers are committed to granting every possible wish that is safe to complete. The contributions of individual donors and partners like Bristol Myers Squibb are especially crucial to making wishes come true right now. Learn more at wish.org.