“I just really love volunteering,” said Manny, who regularly helps out with many other local charities in addition to his involvement with Make-A-Wish. “I learned you have to be 21 years old to become a wish granter, so I signed up as soon as I was old enough.”
And from there, the rest is history. Manny has granted nearly 20 wishes so far, with two currently in the works. His role at Make-A-Wish Arizona is especially important because he is a bi-lingual volunteer.
“I’ve been volunteering my whole life for different causes but I really feel connected to the Make-A-Wish mission,” he said. “As a wish granter, you have the opportunity to make a child happier than they were before, no matter what medical condition they are facing. Being able to do something like that is amazing.”
While all of Manny’s wish kids have a special place in his heart, he says he will always remember his first wish kid.
“Her name was Maria and she wished to have a shopping spree after she was diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “When I first met her, she had long beautiful hair but because of her treatment, she was bald the next time I saw her.”
“We worked with the mall to have her favorite stores open early for her wish and then we threw a party with a bunch of her friends so she could show them her new clothes,” he continued. “I saw how something as simple as just feeling like a normal high schooler again made her so happy and that really hit home to why I grant wishes.”
Since then, Maria lost her battle to cancer, but Manny says her story still impacts him to this day.
“I’m so impressed by the resilience of wish kids,” he said. “The things they are going through are so difficult; sometimes you forget they are still just kids.”
“I often remind myself that we will not be remembered by what we did for ourselves but by what we did for others, and as a wish granter I can change a whole family’s life for the better.”
As a bi-lingual volunteer, Manny is in high demand for wish kids and family who are primarily Spanish-speaking. He has joined with both Spanish-speaking volunteers and volunteers who can’t speak Spanish to make sure the Spanish-speaking wish kids receive their wishes in a timely manner.
“It’s great to know I’ve been able to help more wishes come true because of my ability to speak more than one language, and that any eligible child, whatever language they speak, is able to receive a wish.”
Manny says he is very grateful for the support he’s received from his fellow wish granters, staff members and Make-A-Wish Arizona donors.
"If I were to have my one true wish granted, I would wish to do something where the community builds awareness and gives back to nonprofit organizations – as a way to say thanks for all the great work they do."