HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — WHNT News 19 partnered with Make-A-Wish Alabama for a “Wishes Can’t Wait” telethon Thursday to raise money for children with critical illnesses in Alabama.
Around 280 children in Alabama are on the wait list to have their wish granted. More than 90 of them live in north Alabama.
News 19 asked our viewers for help.
We were blown away by the thousands of dollars our viewers donated during the telethon Thursday afternoon to help grant kids’ wishes.
During the telethon, one young girl from Sheffield got her wish granted! Lupe Deleon, 6, has been battling leukemia. She wished for a shopping spree, and Make-A-Wish Alabama made that wish come true.
“We saw it on her face, just the joy and the happiness that comes from a wish being granted,” said Tracy Bennett Smith, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Alabama. “It’s because the community comes together and provides the support that’s needed to do this.”
“These kids have had such illnesses that they’ve spent so much time in their childhoods going to the doctor’s office and hospitals,” said Valerie Cunningham, VP of Advancement with Make-A-Wish Alabama. “They have not had carefree childhoods. A wish will give them some of that back. It will help restore some of that light and that hope.”
Some things Make-A-Wish kids wish for include things like a trip, meeting their favorite celebrity, a puppy or even a shopping spree like Lupe wished for.
“The average cost of a wish is about $10,000,” said Lacy Fitzpatrick, North Alabama Regional Manager for Make-A-Wish Alabama. “That has increased as has everything, so that is why every dollar is important.”
“A lot of people will say my $10, my $20 won’t matter…it will matter,” Bennett Smith explained.
The thousands of dollars News 19 viewers donated Thursday will help make those wishes come true. All the money stays in Alabama to help kids like Lupe.
“It’s just incredible to see their faces, to hear their stories,” Bennett Smith continued.
The WHNT News 19 “Wishes Can’t Wait” telethon is officially over.
As of 8 p.m., we had raised $37,745 of our $50,000 goal. You can still donate to help kids just like Lupe by texting “WISHES” to 243-725.
Also, Make-A-Wish Alabama will host a special “Wish Night Gala” this September that you can attend to help make even more wishes come true.