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Wish Blog

Phoenix Children's Hospital social worker has referred nearly 300 wish kids

Caley with a wish kid
Two weeks after she started her job as a social worker, Caley Nelson began to refer children and families to Make-A-Wish Arizona. Since then, Caley has celebrated 13 years as a pediatric oncology social worker at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and has referred 297 children.

“It is so hard to pick favorites. I feel like every kid who gets a wish is special, because the wish is so unique to them,” said Caley, who witnessed first-hand how wishes can impact the children and their families.

“It gives them hope that they are going to have an opportunity to do something great and they are given something to dream about while they are in treatment,” she continued. “ You get to see the joy in children when they find out they are receiving a wish and the best part is watching their excitement and utilizing that to reach certain goals.”

In the past 13 years, Caley has been able to watch hundreds of childrens’ wishes be granted, but there are some they stick out. In 2013, Ashton wished to go to the Lamborghini factory, and in 2015, Ava wished to ride a unicorn on the beach in Hawaii.

“It’s great that we have those stories, because as a team it helps us fuel those conversations so we can give the wish kids and families the opportunity to dream and have a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity.”

While families often come back to show Caley and the team pictures of their wish, Caley has been able to witnesses some wishes happen right in her hospital.

“I have a special place in my heart for the hometown celebrities who go above and beyond for the wish kids,” she said. “Larry Fitzgerald made a special visit to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and he was so present and in tune with the wish kid that it seemed like no one else was around and he didn’t have anywhere else to be. You could feel his compassion.”

Caley with a wish kid

“A lot of times, we as the medical team are so focused on a child’s disease and the medicine, and it is amazing to see wish kids have a great experience outside the hospital and do something incredible.”

About this Blog

Make-A-Wish Arizona is the founding chapter of Make-A-Wish, the international wish granting organization. Our chapter grants incredible wishes every day for Arizona children with life-threatening medical conditions. We want to share the stories of our wishes -- and the inspiration, creativity, imagination and life-affirming enthusiasm that they bring -- with you.

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