“My background is in social justice and I’ve done a lot of work engaging youth in service and education,” said Kelly, who became a volunteer in 2015. “I moved from Boston to Arizona and I thought it would be the perfect time to get involved and bring kids’ wish experiences to life.”
Since her training, Kelly asks herself one question:
How can I create experiences that not only fulfill the wish kids’ visions... but involve all their family, friends and communities?
“I’ve seen so many parents, siblings, extended relatives, community members and friends who rally around wish kids when they most need that additional love and support,” said Kelly. “It is inspiring and heartwarming and makes me want to give more and do more for my wish kids and their families.”
Kelly has seen this phenomenon with one of her recent wishes in Northern Arizona.
“My wish kid Aiden wanted to have a place to play outside with his little brothers more than anything, so the entire community became involved,” said Kelly. “Soon, people were clearing trees, donating woodchips, and building a new backyard for Aiden that included a play set with a fort, slide, monkey bars, and swings.”
The day of Aiden’s big wish reveal, more than 60 people showed up to support and celebrate with him!
“He was so overcome with emotion and now Aiden’s backyard is the talk of the neighborhood,” she said. “This group of people who helped Aiden’s wish come true is a deeply dedicated community, one I am so grateful to be a part of every day.”
Kelly also is a big believer that a wish can continue to impact kids and families for not just one day, but for many years to come.
“Wish kids are constantly having health-related discussions with their doctors, making tough decisions and facing hardship. Our job is to come in with smiles, kindness, and enthusiasm and give wish kids and their families a break,” she continued.
“We have the ability to give them something fun, something to look forward to and something that lets them think about the future. We can help kids dream big and focus on being kids again.”
If you’re thinking about volunteering with Make-A-Wish Arizona, Kelly says some of her best memories were made with her fellow wish granters.
“We’ve shared so many laughs and tears and stories. Being a wish granter is a one-of-a-kind experience where you get to be inspiring, creative, supportive, and have fun in the process, so you should totally sign up,” she said.
“And if you speak Spanish and are considering becoming a wish granter, we need you! My Spanish is in no way perfect but it certainly helps me communicate to some of my wish kids and we could really use your Spanish-speaking abilities too."
In her experience throughout the past two years, one thing keeps Kelly coming back and motivates her to continue granting wishes.
“You can tell every wish experience really means something to these kids,” she shared. "Whether it's the smile they give you, the twinkle in their eyes, the squeeze of your hand, or just being overcome with emotion, I can tell with every wish kid that I'm making a difference in their life.”
My Wish: Above all, my biggest wish would be for all of our wish kids to not have to face the health challenges they're facing anymore.