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Wish Blog

Bearizona provides hands-on learning experiences for wish kids

Jen and her colleagues
Jen Roberds has been a member of the Bearizona team for six years. The Chief Operations Officer started as an ambassador for the wildlife park, which is where she had her first experience with a wish kid.

“We work with Make-A-Wish Arizona as an enhancement that is included in a wish to visit the Grand Canyon but, we are very happy to say that many kids have told us that their visit to Bearizona was just as good or better than the Grand Canyon. That is a great feeling,” Jen said.

Jen with her colleagues

Jen said that every single wish kid has impacted her and the Bearizona staff.

“There is a positive aura that surrounds these kids even though they are going through more than most adults could even handle. It is truly amazing how upbeat they are and how happy they are to see our critters.”

When wish kids arrive to the wildlife park, the staff greets the families and often tries to set up an animal encounter, like a visit with the three-banded armadillo, Lucy.

"Lucy weighs about 2 pounds and is super cute. When kids get their hands on her, pure joy shows on their faces."

After the animal encounter and the tour of the park, the family will take a trip to the gift shop. 

“We let the kids and their siblings pick out one thing to take home with them as a memento of their visit to Bearizona. Just like Make-A-Wish, we make sure to include the other children in the family because they are experiencing life’s challenges as well.”

In a typical day, Jen can be found doing everything from driving the bus around the park to giving the tours and educating the parks visitors. 

“I honestly love everything that I do at Bearizona. I am one of the luckiest people ever to have found a job that was so perfect for me.”

While the park doesn’t have wish kids visit every day, on the days they do, it is special for the employees. 

“These kids are a great reminder that no matter how bad you think you have it, it’s not that bad. I get tears in my eyes because it really is the best feeling ever to see them so happy and to know that you were able to help with that.”

Send a message of hope

With many of our wishes postponed, we want you to help keep our wish kids’ spirits high! Write, video or photograph yourself sharing a message of hope and post to any of our Make-A-Wish Arizona social media channels at @makeawishaz (tag @makeawisharizona on Instagram) and use the hashtag #WishesAreWaiting.

You can help bring hope to a child who needs it!

Send a Message of Hope

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 critical illnesses. 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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Make-A-Wish® Arizona
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