“My friend, Lynne Tinker, was a wish granter at the time and ‘voluntold’ me to sign on to a wish with her,” said Marianne, who admits she was uneasy about the opportunity at first. “I thought it might be too emotional for me, but Lynne convinced me to sign up with her and I’m so glad I did.”
Now, four years later, Marianne has become a seasoned professional at granting wishes and still signs on to many of them with her friend, Lynne.
“We work well together,” said Marianne. “I love volunteering and it’s really gratifying knowing you are doing something special for these kids. It makes me feel good.”
While Marianne says all her wish kids are special to her, she mentioned a few families who she still keeps in touch with today.
“One of my first wish kids, Zachary, has muscular dystrophy,” she said. “He wished to go to Disneyland almost two years ago and I am still friends with his family.”
“And my wish kid Hailey had such a unique wish to eat her way through Italy!” she continued. “Because of her cystic fibrosis, her doctors put her on a 4,000 calorie-per-day diet, so it was the perfect wish for her. We revealed the news to Hailey while she was in the hospital, and once she came back from her trip she didn’t need to return to the hospital for another year.”
Building these connections with wish kids is something Marianne really enjoys about volunteering.
"When I went to an initial visit with my wish kid Sydney, she told me she had just gotten her hearing aid," she said. "Sometimes, I think being hard of hearing makes it harder for me to talk to people but I took my hearing aid out, showed it to her and we instantly became best friends."
In addition to granting wishes, Marianne also helps out at Make-A-Wish Arizona events like the Walk For Wishes.
“I volunteered at the Phoenix Walk For Wishes this past year and signed up for Lynne’s team with more than 20 people,” she said. “Hailey’s family came down all the way from Wickenburg just for the event!”
And even though she has granted so many wishes, Marianne says she was genuinely surprised when she was nominated for Volunteer of the Month.
“I don’t do it for the pat on the back,” she said. “I love spoiling my wish kids and it’s all been such a great experience. My one wish would be to win the lottery so I can be able to grant wishes full time!”