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This month, we recognize Child Life Specialists who refer kids for a wish

In the past few years, Suzanne Berner, a certified child life specialist has not only become an incredible referral source for Make-A-Wish Arizona, but she has also inspired many of her coworkers to support future wishes through events like the Walk For Wishes last October.

Suzanne Berner is a certified child life specialist who has referred many children for a wish.

“I became involved with Make-A-Wish Arizona when my daughter, Sydney, joined Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity at Northern Arizona University,” said Suzanne. “Make-A-Wish is their philanthropy of choice so our family learned more about the organization from hearing stories of her wish granting experiences.”

Since connecting with the Arizona chapter, Suzanne, who works in the cystic fibrosis clinic, has referred more than 20 children like Laura (pictured) for a wish and has become a great resource for Make-A-Wish Arizona in the cystic fibrosis community. Thanks to Suzanne's referral, Laura, 11, who has cystic fibrosis, had her wish come true to go on a Disney Cruise Line cruise!

“Most of my patients in the clinic are eligible for a wish because of their diagnosis, so the referral process is very easy for me,” she said. “If a child meets the criteria and is interested, I am usually the designated person to start the referral process.”

And Suzanne loves to see her patients’ excitement after hearing the good news about their wish.

“Referring kids for a wish is a wonderful feeling,” said Suzanne. “My experience has been very positive and I am able to help make a wish come true for the patients and families, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most due to limitations of their income or condition.

“I get to discuss the possibilities with them and listen to them share their biggest hopes and dreams,” she continued. “Some kids have many ideas; others know exactly what they want.” 

While every child’s wish is personal and unique to them, one element of Make-A-Wish that Suzanne sees again and again is the positive impact a wish can have on kids and families.

“Families can go through many negative experiences because of their child’s illness,” she said. “Helping to grant a wish by referring that family to Make-A-Wish Arizona is a giving a gift many of our patients would never have the opportunity to experience on their own.”

“So often, the child with a diagnosis or disability requires more time and attention than other family members, and siblings can feel left out,” she continued. “But when a child chooses a wish that includes their entire family, it makes everyone feel special.”

In addition to referring her patients for wishes, Suzanne also contributes to Make-A-Wish Arizona in other ways. Suzanne was the team captain for her Walk for Wishes team this past October, drafting people for her team at her office. In addition to raising funds for future wishes, the awareness has encouraged more people on her team to recommend their patients with cystic fibrosis for wishes.

“I recruited team members, including my daughter, and we all planned to meet at the event and walk together,” she said. Even though the Walk For Wishes ended early because of the rain, Suzanne said she can’t wait to participate and lead her team for next year’s event.

This month, Make-A-Wish Arizona celebrates Child Life Month by recognizing all the child life specialists like Suzanne, who truly go above and beyond to make wishes come true for kids in Arizona.

“When kids come back to clinic after they have had their wish granted, they share amazing stories about their experience and it shows me a side of them that they do not always expose when they come to the clinic,” said Suzanne. “If you feel that a child needs something extra special because of their illness, diagnosis or situation they are dealing with, I encourage you to see if they qualify for a wish.”

Make-A-Wish® Arizona
2901 North 78th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(602) 395-9474
Toll Free (800) 324-9474