Wishing Well Texoma recently announced it has seen an uptick in donations and is looking to grany an increased number of wishes in the coming year. Wishing Well Texoma, a nonprofit organization that has a more than 30 year history in the area providing for children with severe medical needs, has already helped 150 children in the local community through its wish granting program.
Board member Lee Ann Whitmire said they have some years with just a few wishes and some years with more. Typically they range from one or two to as many as eight depending on funding and needs, and this year, they are on track this year to see an increased number of wishes.
She said the biggest issue is the guidelines are strict. In order to qualify, a child must have a condition that is considered catastrophic or life-threatening. As such, she said sadly many of their past recipients are no longer alive.
“We provide an opportunity for families that are experiencing having a child that is living with a life threatening or catastrophic illness,” Whitmire said. “Their days are consumed with the journey. We are able to come in and provide maybe medical needs they can’t afford for the child. Or able to give them a week going away and having a week that is as normal as possible. That child is loved on and elevated during a week of laughter, family and joy.”
The first Wishing Well Texoma recipient was Gary Don Martin of McAlester, Oklahoma. His wish was to meet Big Bird on Sesame Street. His family was sent to New York City to the set of the show while also beeing shown many of the sights around town. The organization was able to provide a total of eight wishes that first year.
By 2001, the organization had granted 90 wishes. Whitmire said even though it is only February now, the organization already has four wishes currently in the works for this year.
Not all children ask for trips. Some wishes include medical equipment or treatments to help make the child’s life more comfortable. One example included making accommodations for a wheelchair-bound child.
The organization does not pay for vehicles and only grants to individuals between 3 and 18 years old. Whitmire said the most common wish is a trip to Disney World, which includes a stay at Give Kids The World, a partner organization that helps with the accommodations for the family.
Another feature Wishing Well offers that is unique to their wish granting venture is the option for a board member to accompany the family and provide assistance as needed. Some examples would be if a parent needed to sit with a sick kid the board member would take the other kids to the attractions. They organization also tries to help with medical needs such as a nurse or other care, as needed, when it can.
One former wish recipient’s child passed away shortly after their wish had been granted. In order to help with the child’s pain, Wishing Well provided the family a hot tub. The mother, Marsha Haye,s went on to be a board member for 20 years helping the organization grow.
“The sad part is when I say life-threatening and catastrophic is we have wishes that are no longer with us,” Whitmire said. “We keep in touch with all of our wishes. We have some that have lost their battle. It is a blessing and honor to have been a part of giving them a memory that contains joy, laughter and comfort they may not have been given. It takes them out of the quicksand they live in.”
The non-profit organization receives a large portion of its funding through a fundraiser conducted in partnership with Nautilus Family Fitness. The funding is through sponsorships for the event as well as sponsorships of individual participants.
The organization’s reach includes Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Coal, Huges, Jefferson, Johnston, Latimer, Leflore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Murray, Pittsburgh, Pontotoc and Pushmataha counties in Oklahoma and Texas counties Cooke, Fannin, Grayson and Lamar.