“I watched a 60 Minutes segment about Make-A-Wish and knew I had to get involved,” said Duke, who always loved working with children. “Both of my kids are in their 20s now, but I used to coach their sports teams when they were growing up and I was involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters when I lived in Seattle.”
Now Duke works as a franchise manager where he helps people fulfill their dream of owning their own business, although he admits volunteering as a wish granter is the “best job ever.”
“It’s amazing to see what a wish does for these kids,” he said. “I still remember my first wish kid who had a bone disease and 50 surgeries by the time he was in high school. We granted his wish to go to Disneyland and seeing everything he’s been through really put my life into perspective.”
Since then, Duke has granted more than 20 wishes and he’s recruited his older sister to become a volunteer.
“I promised her we would grant our first wish together and to this day it’s still my most memorable wish,” he said. “We arranged a shopping spree for a kid named Joel and my favorite part was the selflessness of everyone involved and how people came together to make it happen. The clothes and electronics he purchased helped him go back to school looking and feeling better than ever.”
Duke also was able to experience the excitement of a wish firsthand on a recent vacation.
“Last year I was traveling when I noticed a girl wearing a Wish Kid shirt,” he said. "Normally I get to see the photos and hear stories when kids come back from their trips, but it was fun to see her happiness and excitement in person and during her wish.”
“I believe in the power of healing and positive thinking, and I think a wish gives the kids, parents and siblings something they can look forward to,” he continued. “It’s not something that only benefits a wish kid but everyone involved.”
My Wish: If I had a wish, I would want to find the cure for cancer