The husband and wife duo was first introduced to Make-A-Wish Arizona in 2005, when their son Brandon became a wish kid. Brandon, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, wished to go on a Disney Cruise Line® cruise.
The family had a great time and afterwards, Brandon made a comment to his mom about how his wish to go on a Disney Cruise "made up for all the time in the hospital."
Brandon’s comment made the couple think.
"There are a lot of things you can do as a volunteer at Make-A-Wish, but being a wish granter is special because you get to see the good in people, the joy that comes when a wish is granted."
The couple knew they wanted to give other kids that same joy their son had and started the process to be official volunteer wish granters. Today, the couple has completed 25 wishes together.
"The first wish Jeff and I worked on was an international wish to see the cathedral where Harry Potter was filmed. The wish took three years because the cathedral was only open at a specific time, as was the exact room in the wish kid wanted to see, which was only open a couple months out of the year to the public," explained Mindy.
Even though the first wish was a challenge, Mindy said "it was so much fun to know she had the time of her life."
Their son Brandon also gets involved with the wishes. The whole family comes together to go above and beyond to supply enhancements for wishes to make each wish more personalized, and more special without breaking the wish budget.
"The magic is in the details. It's amazing how much a difference the small details can make to a wish kid, even the simplest of things like a letter to the wish kid from his favorite character can keep the excitement going,” said Mindy. She’s also is a big fan of in-kind donations from local businesses or organizations that help enhance the wish.
“The thought you put into the enhancements can enrich the wish granting experience," said Mindy. "Not only for the wish kid, but also for the individual or community group that now knows they helped to make a wish special.”
In one instance, the family made a realistic looking wand for a Harry Potter wish to Universal Studios. The wish kid was so excited about the wand he carried it with him for the duration of his trip.
As two of the most prolific wish granters, Jeff and Mindy have now mastered a system. "If it's a boy, Jeff works with the wish kid and I do the paper work and vice-versa for a girl wish kid, so it works perfectly" said Mindy.
Recently, the couple completed a 16th birthday party wish with two new wish granters, who they were training. Jeff and Mindy soon realized they had it good as a wish granting duo -- “It’s amazing how much smoother the process goes when your co-wish granter is in the same household, and you don’t have to play phone tag with one another,” said Mindy with a laugh.
Jeff has started a few wishes alone and finished the wish with his wife; through this, he has come to appreciate Mindy's attention to detail. Realizing how much easier doing the wishes is together as a team.
Having the ability to come home and talk about wishes and re-experience magical moments together makes the experience have even more impact for the couple.
"Our favorite thing about being a wish granter is having special moments with wish families,” said Mindy. “Getting to share that with my husband makes it all the more special.”
"We get to bring hope and brightness into kid's lives, and make it not about their illness, all while giving a sense of relief to the families," said Mindy when speaking of the rewarding feeling that comes from volunteering as a wish granter.
One wish that was extra special to Jeff and Mindy was a wish to see Cinderella's pink palace at the Walt Disney World® resorts for a 2-year-old girl.
"The wish was so great because her brothers all wore the Make-A-Wish pins and shirts; it was heartwarming to see a bunch of boys supporting their little sister and to see others in the park recognizing the wish kid as special, so that alone enhanced the wish," said Mindy.
"A wish reminds us that we can make a difference in the world by giving kids something to look forward to when going through treatment," said Mindy. "Jeff and I can’t wait to share that impact with many, many more Arizona wish kids.”