While it’s nice to dream about finding a genie in a magical lamp and getting three wishes, chances are that won’t ever happen in this reality. However, there are plenty of organizations donning a genie cap and making modest dreams come true.
True, these institutions don’t create princedoms, provide flying carpets or make mountains of gold appear (like one famous genie we know and love), but these people bring joy and happiness in other ways to those who need a dose of magic the most.
WISH OF A LIFETIME
In honor of his grandmother, Colorado native and two-time Olympian Jeremy Bloom founded Wish of a Lifetime in 2008. Today the organization is supported by AARP, but the mission continues to focus on changing the way society views and values the oldest generations by fulfilling senior adults’ wishes. To make these dreams come true, the first step is nominating a person via the online application form.
From there, it’s up to the board, funding and time to make these desires come to fruition. Wish of a Lifetime also aims to share the stories to help inspire others to make a wish and donate to the cause. So far dozens of wishes have been granted, including a trip in the Goodyear blimp, attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, a reuniting of sisters who were separated by war, a chance to drive a Formula 1 pace car, and so many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Because data shows that over 23,000 kids age out of the foster care system at 18 years of age, often without a family to help them transition, Julie Mavis founded Dream Makers in 2015 in Colorado. The idea is to not only to support these young adults, but to let them share what could help make their dreams come true.
Then, supporters can go straight to the website and help make these wishes a reality. For example, one woman asked for a laptop to use for school and work. Another needed funds for transportation. One man is wishing for $995 for a business license, while another lady simply wants $150 to help make her birthday special. No wish is too big or too little; all it needs is someone to make it come true.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation has branches all over the world. The Colorado chapter launched in 1983 and is overseen by Joan Mazak, who created it in memory of her 7-year-old daughter, Jennifer. While Jennifer didn’t have a formal wish, her desire to visit a local radio mascot — the KIMN Chicken — was fulfilled after he came to see her at her home. The joy this little girl, who was suffering from liver disease, felt from this event prompted her mother to spread that love to other kids suffering from life-threatening illness after her daughter passed.
Other wishes granted have included being the star of a fashion show, spending the day with jets at Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, and getting a pet dragon, which took the form of a three-foot-long robot created just for its recipient by Arrow Electronics out of Centennial. Now, 40 years later, over 6,000 wishes have been granted in the state.
THE DENVER HOSPICE
Though on a much smaller scale than full-time wish-granting organizations, The Denver Hospice does what it can to make patients’ small dreams come true. The hospice opened in 1978 because the founders, Carolyn Jaffe and Dr. Peter Van Arsdale, realized the need for comprehensive, expert-driven and collaborative care for people facing serious illness, grief and aging.
While wish fulfillment isn’t the number one goal of the venture, it’s an aspect that certainly helps patients and their families. Over the years The Denver Hospice has provided a swimming experience for an 81-year-old with an advancing illness, a family’s first-ever bowling trip for a 35-year-old man with spindle cell sarcoma, and most recently, tickets to a Broadway touring show for a 17-year-old high school graduate in need of a little joy.
ONE SIMPLE WISH
Helping out this organization proves easy, all you have to do is go to the website, onesimplewish.org, pick a wish and fulfill it. The whole program, created by Danielle Gletow in New Jersey over 10 years ago, is generated by human genies granting small wishes to anyone who has spent any time in the foster care system, or may be impacted by abuse, neglect and family trauma.
While it’s easy to give a gaming consul to Bobby, a dresser to Yesica, or Pokemon pajamas to Dusty, all those who add their wishes have to be vetted through a nonprofit serving those who have been impacted by foster care, or be a foster parent submitting a wish on behalf of the beneficiary. Overall, One Simple Wish caters to foster children, people who have aged out of foster care and under-served kids and their families from all over the United States.
No matter how these wishes get granted-sponsors, doctors, genies-the impact proves great and well worth it, if anything, to bring some magic into a life that needs it the most.