Notre Dame’s Make-A-Wish Club is a small organization of approximately 20-30 active members who share a collective hope to enrich the lives of children in the South Bend area who face life-threatening medical conditions.
Members of the club, who call themselves “WishMakers”, strive to raise funds to make a child’s wish come true each year. On average, this requires funding of around $7,000 per wish.
But the wish is only part of the package, according to Lainey Teeters, the club’s chief of staff.
“Basically, our inspiration is just to make a wish for a child [come true] in the dark period of their life which is illness. And so, sometimes we meet the children, we can, for example, communicate with them throughout their wish. For example, we will send them cards and also little things just to get them excited,” Teeters said. “We really want to give them something to look forward to.”
Senior Megan Campbell, the club’s Wish Kid Liaison works more directly with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, arranging the physical details of the wish, as well as creating events for local kids waiting for a wish. Campbell mentioned her own experience which prompted her to join the club.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but basically one time my family was at Disney World and we were in line…we were next and [a family] jumped right in front of us. We started talking to one of the Wish Kids who was there to get her wish granted with her parents. Since then, I have always wanted to support the cause,” Campbell said.
For Tyler Knapp senior, club secretary, Make-A-Wish is a cause close to his heart.
“My inspiration to join it was because I was actually a kid from Wish,” Knapp explained. “So in my freshman year of high school, I was diagnosed with leukemia. And I just know, after going through that experience, how hard it is for all those kids, there’s no good days for that. So I really wanted to give back to everyone who helped me with my experience.
Knapp said he is grateful that Notre Dame has the opportunity for him to be involved in the organization on campus.
“Honestly, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to do something like this,” Knapp said. “I’m so glad Notre Dame has a club like this where I can give back so easily. I don’t even have to go off campus to be able to help.
Among the diverse member inspirations for membership, all agree on a common theme of ‘direct impact’. Members like to know how they are helping. Sophomore Kaitlyn Leshak, publicist for the club, explained what she feels is unique about Make-A-Wish.
“[Make-A-Wish] is such a big organization, and even though we’re such a small affiliate, you know your fundraising is working and people are getting something out of it,” Leshak said.
Sometimes members can even feel the effects of the club’s work directly. Teeters recalled some of the wishes she witnessed while at the club.
“My freshman year we granted somebody’s wish and it was a shopping spree at Best Buy. And so the club members went to Best Buy with him and he bought a computer, a television, a bunch video games, like all kinds of electronics because that’s what he really loved,” Teeters said. “Another one we did, his dream was to be an artist. And so she was able to go to the Chicago Art Institute and she got a one-year membership, and then also had a day where she worked with the team to create art.
The wishes are different for each child. For some, their dreams and role models are actually here on the Notre Dame campus.
“We have granted the wishes of people wishing to attend a football match at Notre-Dame. And they can live all day of the Notre Dame game. They go out with the team. They experience the locker room, they can go out on the pitch, they can do all of that,” Teeters said.
When it comes to funding to ensure those wishes can be granted, the club’s two biggest fundraisers each year are usually Notre Dame Day and their football concession stand. The Make-A-Wish Club also plans various bagel stands, holiday events, and restaurant fundraisers throughout the year.
Coming this semester, the club has a few more fundraisers in the works. On October 14, they’ll be hosting an “egg roulette”, where a few teachers and students have volunteered to get an egg smashed on their heads – whether it’s hard or regular, it’s luck.
Another event planned for the club is a Halloween party on October 29. Teeters explained that there will be a group of Wish Kids there having fun with tricks or treats, face painting and fun games.
The club meets every other Wednesday and if students are interested in joining Make-A-Wish, club management encourages them to contact email@example.com.
“We still get a lot of sign-ups for the club, but people don’t feel like they can get as involved,” Knapp explained. “But, [there are] so many little things you can do that take very little of your time, but have such a big impact on us in our fundraising efforts and what we do.
Leshak reiterated the same message.
“It feels like so little time, but so much meaning,” Leshak said.
Lainey Teeters ended by describing why, of all the clubs available, she chose to join Make-A-Wish her freshman year.
“I think it’s important because you really have a direct impact on the lives of these kids,” Teeters said. “In the end, like it was something they would remember for the rest of their lives.”
You can contact Kelsey Quint at firstname.lastname@example.org