“I enjoyed volunteering for several causes when I lived in Hawaii. My friend’s granddaughter received a wish to go to Walt Disney World, so I decided to become a Make-A-Wish Arizona volunteer wish granter,” she said.
It turns out volunteering brought one new friend – and so much more – into Shantel’s life that she never would have expected.
“I remember going to an initial visit party at Dave & Buster’s and being paired with a random wish granter named Genny. We connected and ended up clicking really well and we’ve teamed up together on almost all of our wishes since then.”
So far, Shantel has granted 16 wishes including an upcoming wish in a child’s backyard.
“Kameryn wishes to have a pool lift to make it easier for him to get in and out of the water,” she said. “We already sent him some pool noodles and fun surprises to help him get excited and I think wishes are a great way to give kids something to look forward to right now and help parents stay positive.”
“I’m still in touch with another one of my wish kids, McKenna, who is so inspiring,” she continued. “She’s in the hospital a lot for her condition but she wasn’t old enough to volunteer, so she actually created her own foundation that makes gift bags and blankets for other kids.”
That inspirational pay-it-forward philosophy is something Shantel believes in and tries to instill in her own children.
“I try to involve my kids in enhancement projects because it helps them think beyond themselves and give back to others in a creative way,” she said. “We made a box filled with balloons to surprise one of my wish kids, Citlali, and reveal her wish was granted.”
And it’s not only Shantel’s kids who want to help. When it comes to wishes, she is overwhelmed by the support she’s seen from her community.
“I’m always surprised by how many people want to help out with a wish, especially the local businesses that will go above and beyond,” she continued. “I’ve seen restaurants donate enough food to feed an army and it’s amazing to see what people are willing to do for wish kids.”