Women Making A Difference: Helping children battle life-threatening illnesses
HOUSTON – Michele Wright is something like a real-life genie in a bottle for dozens of children across the country.
She has volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the past nine years as a “wish granter,” someone who helps grant wishes for children who are coping with life-threatening illnesses.
"It's great to see a kid who's going through a really tough fight just get to pick any wish. They don't have to think about doctors. They don't have to think about getting tests done,” Wright said.
For nearly a decade, Michele has planned, coordinated meetings with celebrities and set up trips for children and their families.
"A young man who wanted to play guitar with Angus Young from AC/DC. So he got to have a jam session with him for an hour," she said.
Wright is paired with another volunteer to help make these wishes some true, and works with Make-A-Wish employees to facilitate and approve travel accommodations and other considerations for each wish.
Despite the long hours of planning, Wright said the work she does is beyond gratifying.
"I had one little boy say 'That was the best week of my life.' So hearing things like that you just think of the positive side and you just know you're there to make them happy, even for a little while," she said.
Wright is currently working with 11-year-old Jake McCray, of Magnolia, who was diagnosed with leukemia in August.
Even though Jake has been shuttled to multiple doctor appointments each week and has had to struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy, he has maintained a positive attitude.
"It's not been the best but I'm getting through it,” he said.
Jake has taken the last year off from school and was forced to take a break from playing baseball, the sport he loves, so his mother knew he needed something to look forward to.
That’s when Wright and Make-A-Wish stepped in to help plan Jake’s dream trip to Hawaii.
"It is so exciting because it's something I can't do for him, and it's just amazing. Just the excitement in his eyes when he talks about it,” said Amber McCray, Jake’s mother.
Jake said the two things he are most hoping for is to feel better and to swim with dolphins on his family trip to Hawaii.
"It means a lot. I couldn't be more grateful,” Jake said.
Wright said those kind of moments -- seeing children smile -- is what makes all her efforts worthwhile.
"What's better than being able to grant a wish for a child? I mean, it's just one of the best things I've ever done in my life," she said.
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