“Ella’s wish gave us an opportunity not to think about her condition but to have fun watching her do what she loves,” said Carly. “Her wish was about more than dancing, it was about becoming part of a team and sharing her experience with an entire stadium of supporters.”
Although Ella cannot communicate verbally, she often expresses herself through music and dance, and this opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people is still something that is very important to both Ella and Carly.
“I started the Turkey Trot six years ago, but after Ella’s wish, I decided to donate the proceeds to Make-A-Wish Arizona so more kids can get their wishes,” she said. “It’s something I’m proud of and the event keeps getting better and bigger.”
Over the last few years, the race has grown in the amount of money it has raised and the number of runners participating. This past November the Turkey Trot raised a record amount of money, just over $13,000.
“Every single time a person donates I publicly thank them, and that spreads like wildfire. People go on and register and donate and it encourages more people to sign up.”
While the race is held in November, preparations for the Turkey Trot start at the end of September for Carly. She finds local businesses to donate breakfast items as well as people to assist with timing and registration, and volunteers to stand along the course on race day to make sure no runners mix up the two running paths, the 5k and the 10k.
“We were able to connect this past year’s event with a local wish kid. That really resonated with a lot of people because they knew who this little girl was.”
However; hosting a large-scale event isn’t the only way for people like Carly to wish it forward. Carly also participates in the annual Make-A-Wish Arizona Walk for Wishes and made a Wish Your Way online fundraising page for a friend who wanted to donate money instead of receiving gifts for her 40th birthday.
“Ella’s wish helped me realized that kids dealing with critical illnesses need to have something special after everything they have endured,” she continued. “It shocks me every year that our event has done so well, and I’m just grateful to give back to Make-A-Wish Arizona after Ella’s wish.”