Kids say the darndest things so it's no surprise that they also have some rather strange wishes too. These Make-A-Wish employees share the unforgettably sweet yet strange wishes they've fulfilled for kids.
Sammy Sosa Doesn’t Sound Like A Good Sport
“A classmate of mine (now deceased) got a meet and greet with Sammy Sosa. The understanding from the Make A Wish people was that Sammy would sign autographs and sit with the family for a while maybe share a few stories. Now, this kid was ALL ABOUT Sammy Sosa. He had his jerseys, loved Sammy’s little leaps after home runs, and if I can recall correctly even started drinking Pepsi because of Sammy too. Bottom line, this kid was a diehard fan.
When the day came, Sammy showed up late. Even worse, he didn’t respond when the family greeted him. One witness described it as an ‘awkwardly sullen silence.’ Then apparently Sosa signed a glove, put up a hand, then walked right out the door.
My classmate started crying once it was clear Sammy was not going to come back. Just absolutely heartbreaking. But right when the parents were about to leave, Chicago Cubs player Corey Patterson saw my classmate and came to the rescue. Patterson walked right up, signed everything they had then talked and joked around with the family for over a half hour. Corey became my classmates favorite player that day – and rightfully so! Sadly, that classmate passed away perhaps a year after that meet and greet. He was only 11-years-old. At his funeral, my classmates’ picture with Corey was one of the prominent pictures – that moment and day truly, truly meant the world to him. And if I can remember correctly, Corey Patterson was also in attendance.
To this day I’m unsure if someone from Make a Wish found Corey or if the moment was as spontaneous as it was described to me, but no matter what Corey will always have a special place in my heart because of that story. Just a class act.”
Bugs, John Cena, Robin Williams, And So Much More
“I had cancer myself as a kid so I know quite a few people who went through the Make A Wish process. For my wish I went to Yellowstone National Park to see some wild buffalo. When I recovered and got better I became a volunteer at my local wish granting foundation.
I certainly have my share of interesting stories and wishes though! I remember one very young girl who REALLY wanted to go on a hunting trip. We sent she and her dad to a nice hunting lodge. Somehow that sweet little girl managed to bag the largest buck ever shot at the lodge! She must’ve been one heck of a shot. The little girl, proud of her kill, wanted to get the entire animal stuffed. To this day there is a massive stage deer standing in her living room.
Another odd one was this kid who was obsessed with bugs. So much, that he even wanted to eat them after watching the Survivor and Fear Factor shows. So we had a professional chef come in and cook this kid bugs from all around the world in various ways. Little dude ate everything up and really enjoyed it!
We also got a ton of kids who want to meet pro WWE wrestlers and they’re honestly the kindest people. Celebrities often only give kids about five minutes of time before moving on but the wrestler really give a memorable experience. John Cena in particular is great and overall very kind man.
Also fun fact, but Robin Williams was apparently the best wish granter ever! He would take everybody out to eat, do impressions, and pretend to be genie as he did impressions. He would also take the children out to buy whatever the wanted and if he was in town he would make sure and visit the family. Just a very giving soul. I never knew anyone personally that met him but the president of the foundation said they personally mourned his loss because he was so terrific for so many of their kids and their families.”
One Upon A Sloth
“I worked at a hospice and we had a wishing program. One of our patients was 24-years-old with brain cancer and really, really wanted to hold a sloth. Apparently, sloths are very nervous creatures, so it’s a little tricky to actually hold one.
I found a local company that did visits to schools and whatnot that had a sloth. That catch was that sloths only poop about once a week and the sloth could only travel the day after he pooped (because they get nervous, any longer than that and the sloth has stress diarrhea). For being so slow and lazy they are incredibly anxious creatures.
So basically we hatched a plan to wait until the sloth pooped and then set up the visit for the next day. The sloth pooped on Thanksgiving, so we set up the visit for the next morning. The patient was able to hold and pet this very sweet sloth. A very unusual request with even more unusual circumstances but the smile on her face was worth it. The patient died about three weeks later, and I am very happy I was able to help give her some joy in her final weeks.
The hospice I worked at had a special program called Faithful Wishes for any of our patients, regardless of age. As the Volunteer Coordinator, fulfilling these wishes was part of my job. I do believe there are other non-profit organizations that grant wishes to adults, but nothing as large as Make-a-Wish.
Yes, the sloth was tame and lived in an animal preserve. He would also visit schools and retirement communities, schedule permitting. And yes, I absolutely learned more about sloth bowel movements than I ever wanted to.”
He Turned His Wish Into A Newfound Purpose In Life
“Not Make A Wish – but my brother got terminal brain cancer when he was 18. He was given three to six months to live and it shook our family to the core. Back then his only wish was to be an NFL player. But he was a littler fella. About 5’8 but full of heart and determination; he always reminded me of Rudy in that Notre Dame football movie.
He fought the cancer with everything he had for six years. Somewhere around his 22nd birthday he and I were talking about life and what was worth fighting for. We had a long and existential discussion. I told him that you could really fight for whatever you wanted but a bright future for others was something always worth fighting for. I then encouraged him to find something similar to fight for.
We went on a vacation soon after that, and because we were broke from medical bills and four years of battling cancer as a family, this was a HUGE deal. We hadn’t had a family vacation for a long time. A family friend put us up in their beach house and gave us some money to have a good time there. My brother came ALIVE on the trip. It was so impactful to him that he came home and decided to start a non profit organization.
He called it ‘A Week Away.’ It was very similar to make a wish – terminally sick patients apply and benefit from an all expenses paid vacation with their family or group of caregivers. That was a big deal to him to include the family because, if you’ve ever gone through something like that, you know it’s not just the patient who suffers and loses their freedom, it’s everyone they are close to.
He worked his butt off to start the organization. He formed it and began sending families to places like the outer banks and ocean city and other east coast beaches. A week before he died, he launched his first big month long fundraiser.
He passed away knowing that he had raised enough to send like 10 families on respite weeks. It was like he was passing the baton off to others who could keep on fighting. The org is still going strong today. If anyone is blessed to have their health and a sweet vacation spot you’d like to donate for occasional use by sick people all coordinated by an awesome organization, I’d encourage you to reach out to the A Week Away folks.”
Sympathy For Cruella Deville
“My wife used to work at Disneyland playing Cruella. One day her manager came by while she was getting ready for the day to tell her that she was going to do a private audience for a child from the Make A Wish foundation. Now my wife was absolutely shocked. She had worked there for years and seen the princesses and Mini/Mickey Mouse do hundreds of Make A Wishes, while the villains had never done a single one. She thought today was her lucky day and she was going to be making a wish for the rare Cruella superfan (this was years ago before Cruella had her own movie and was popular).
Next thing my wife knows she enters the private audience room for her Make A Wish debut. In fact, she hadn’t even been in the private room before and put on her best Cruella attitude. I mean who knew Cruella even had fans? Soon the next thing my wife see sees is this diminutive teenage child being wheeled over who is pointing her finger and yelling. Just going ballistic. Okay, odd response but let’s see where this is going. This is when it all hilariously clicked in my wife’s head!
As the child is wheeled closer my wife hears the child yelling and realizes she’s actually yelling at her! ‘You’re a creep!’ she shrieks. Over and over again. I tried to play it off by saying all the standard Cruella lines and making jokes, but the kid just kept screaming ‘You’re a creep! You’re a creep!’ While the family laughed and took photos. Now the kid wasn’t 100% there mentally so my wife didn’t take it that hard. But it was pretty hilarious and confusing for my wife. I mean hey it was her wish and she decided to spend it yelling at Cruella Deville! I guess 101 Dalmations was a big deal to that little girl.”
“I Wish To Work In A Pickle Factory”
“I had the privilege of working for Make A Wish (MAW) at their National Office for a number of years. Here are a few of my favorites (as best as I can remember them):
‘I wish to be a worker in a pickle factory.’ Turns out that during his chemotherapy, the child’s favorite food became pickles and was one of the few things he could manage to enjoy so he wanted to meet the ‘people who put the pickles in jars.’ The organization made it into a big deal and you bet those pickle factory workers were thrilled to experience his joy that day. There was a photo in the office of this little boy in a hairnet with a beaming smile as he watched pickle spears move by on a conveyor belt. Melts my heart.
‘I wish to have the experience of a WWII fighter pilot who crashed on a deserted island.’ During some of his hospital stays, this wish kid had visits from a few veterans who visited the hospital and told him stories of their experiences back in the war. He became really interested in military history. MAW worked with a big contingent of people from Hawaii, including the U.S. military, and flew him to a little uninhabited island in Hawaii, and he got to experience (with his dad and a few safety experts) what it was like to be ‘deserted’ for about 48 hours. A very interesting and uncommon wish but we tried to make it as authentic as possible! Sounds like the little guy just wanted to know what it felt like to be a war hero.
‘I wish to have a pet dragon.’ This was a tough one (out of Idaho I believe) to make happen, but this child wanted a ‘pet dragon he could train.’ So the volunteers put their heads together and thought about how they could make this happen. We inadvertently stumbled across someone who actually had some experience in this kind of thing! The very creator of the Furby. MAW set up a meeting between the two to help design it. It was really great seeing the design process but in the end, the Wish kid was able to get a little mechanical, very lifelike (think Toothless) dragon he could train.
‘I wish to be a National Park Ranger.’ This wish was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. This wish kid loved the outdoors and national parks had played an important role in how his mom had met some important people in her life. He spent a few days learning the ropes of being a ranger at Yosemite National Park and was even named an honorary park ranger.
It was such a great experience. What I loved the most about MAW is when volunteers first sit down with kids, they literally learn about what interests this child, what makes them tick…they ask them ‘if you could wish for anything, what would it be.’ This process gives them the opportunity to think about all the possibilities. Some kids have very specific requests; others simply want to go to Disney World. But ultimately this wish is so individualized that it is the perfect wish for that child. And there are a ton of benefits to the child and the family. It’s a great organization.”
Amber Is The Color Of Your Energy
“I was a Make A Wish kid. My wish was to meet my favorite band ever 311. At the time my friends and I had a band and covered their songs. I had Hodgkin’s cancer at 13 so it was gone or in more technical terms, in remission. I was flown out to Orange County California and given the full deluxe treatment!
A limo picked my family and me from the airport and took us straight to the show. As they were sound checking The guitarist handed me his guitar and all I could remember was the beginning riff to ‘Amber.’ Boy did that sound like magic.
Tim the guitarist messed with the effect pedals so it would sound the way ‘Amber’ is supposed to. Before I knew it the classic song came to life. It was so nice to see in the flesh. The drummer jumped in and even let me play with them! It feels like it was a dream at this point. They were the nicest guys ever. During the actual show, there was a projector screen with a dude hitting a pipe, and everyone started blazing up weed.
My humble family was not used to this but it was pretty darn funny. After all this, we went to Disneyland and skipped all the lines riding a roller coaster over and over again. I was allowed backstage and the band was all chilling with me then someone said Adam Sandler was in their tour bus. They all left to smoke weed with Adam Sandler. I stayed back and talked to some lady that claimed to know Bradley Nowell. I may have only been 13 but I wish I could have said I blazed it up with Adam Sandler. But yeah, I used my Make A Wish to see my favorite stoner band.”
This Has To Be The Most Awkward Wish Granted
“I used to cosplay Spider-Man with a group of friends and we never said no to helping fulfill a wish. But I have gotten one wish that in hindsight I should’ve 100% refused to do. Usually, I would get contacted by the owner of the local Comic-Con who knew the head of our Make A Wish chapter. From there they would figure, coordinate, and plan the whole event for the wish. I would get ample time to prepare and know the wish-maker too. The last thing I would have to do after that just shows up! And it’s usually an awesome time. Lots of laughs, smiles, music, and pictures being taken. A lot of times we all pile into a limo and just have a night out on the town. But my last job could’ve gone a heck of a lot smoother though.
This one session I did was a little fishy from the get to. I was contacted only two days before the event with no info and went in completely blind. After I arrived I was told that our local Make A Wish leader would not be there (he had never missed one of the wishes we sent off) so that felt very strange to me. I had also been told that the recipient would be going to NYC and that they wanted to meet Spider-Man. So obviously that’s where I come in right? Or so I thought.
When I arrived I a staff member threw me a complete curveball and told me that apparently, the kid loves the Ninja Turtles, not Spider-Man. Not sure what happened there, but how do you confuse the Mutant Ninja Turtles with Spider-Man? ‘Oh well,’ I thought. I was already in character so I decided to give it my best shot. I mean, for the kids, right?
So I show up and the kid couldn’t have absolutely cared less about me being there which was disappointing. I wound up kind of just awkwardly standing off to the side of him because he wouldn’t even look at me. Things only went downhill from there.
When I tried to talk to the family they seemed distant and when I mentioned their trip to NYC they scoffed at me like I was some sort of idiot and told me they were going to Disney. Embarrassed I looked over at the kid who had been playing the arcade cabinet in the corner for about 15 minutes. The wish giver then asked me to fix their Xbox which only continued to break my character. We took the cringiest picture ever and were told I should go change as they hop in the limo. I honestly haven’t done a Wish party since and got pretty out of cosplaying shape. This also led to me not getting a single invite/request since.”
“The Academy Does Not Grant Wishes.”
“I’ve been the recipient and later on after my health improved I volunteered as a wish coordinator.
My original wish was to attend the Oscars. That got denied by the Academy as they do not grant wishes. I wound up going to the People’s Choice Awards as a VIP. Make A Wish flew my family to LA for a week, all expenses paid. They got us a limo for the show, paid for my dress, hair, and make-up, we walked the red carpet, and were seated very close to the stage. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The generosity of the volunteers is remarkable. They even had someone greet us at the airport on arrival. It was extremely important to me that my brother and sister were included in my wish because my illness had robbed them of part of their childhoods. I am forever indebted to everyone who made my wish possible.
When I turned 18 I decided to volunteer as a wish coordinator to give back to an organization that did so much for me. I met with wish kids and their families. We would always arrive with a gift for all the children in the family based on a little survey they filled out. We’d talk with the child and help define their wish. It’s important to determine the child’s true wish, and make sure that it isn’t influenced by parents. The most common wish is to go to Disney. Celebrity meet and greets are the ones that often can be turned down. First, because it is undefined what a meet and greet is … it could be the child literally waving at someone and no one wants that, and second because not all celebrities grant wishes or can schedule a time to meet with kids. The coolest wish I worked on was a shopping spree for a boy who was confined to his room. He got 7k to go buy video games, TVs, a tricked-out lazy boy, etc for the ultimate gaming setup.”
Took 18 Hours But It Was Worth It
“This wasn’t Make a Wish, it was a local radio station, but I swear every single part of this is true. I probably still have the master tape.
Around 25 years ago in the mid 90s, in the town I lived in up in the far north-west of Scotland, there was a Community Radio Station. We were trying to set up a local radio station so we had a six-week run using borrowed equipment from Moray Firth Radio to gauge popularity and interest.
Now the first programme in the evening after the news was one run by a couple of high school kids. We’d get a few kids in, they’d record a few sound bites and stuff, we’d run the snippets, then around 5 pm their show would go up. It was a cute little bit though. It was usually tunes they liked, shout-outs to their friends, that kind of thing. The kids absolutely loved it. They had a blast and I enjoyed seeing the smiles; just tremendous fun.
Now there was one wee boy who was used a wheelchair and wanted to join us on the program. We were absolutely happy to have him but our studio wasn’t exactly wheelchair accessible. We were in an old building and our recording room was up a long perilous flight of stairs. Wheelchair access was unfortunately not a big priority when the building was originally built in the 50s.
Poor kid couldn’t even be carried up the stairs because he suffered from severe spinal problems which affected his back, chest, and internal organs. He was a very sick, small boy and we would’ve loved to have had him in the studio but there was no way we could do it safely. Poor bloke was out of luck on that one.
Or so we thought! A simple workaround occurred to me; he could tape his program on a portable recorder! He could just give me his shoutout or whatever, his track listing, and then I’d cut it together, and play it on the airwaves! He wouldn’t get to do it live unfortunately but hey it was the next big thing right?
So, we did just that. I dropped off the tape recorder, microphone and so on, and a day or so later I collected it from him with his running order, track list, and a stack of CDs. Perfect. He even sounded like he’d really bashed on his script and sounded pretty good. Copy the tape to 1/4″, copy the tunes to 1/4″, edit it down, and boom.
Except…well there was just one thing. Like yeah, this was a poor sick kid but he also happened to have a really bad cold when he recorded this stuff. Like, a real snuffly snottery cold. Every sentence was punctuated with comical snotty noises.
I can tell you now that a is about pretty dang long on 3-3/4 inch per second 1/4″ tape, and also cats absolutely love to play with all this brown tickertape confetti you’re flooding the bedroom (where my editing gear was) with, and there were dozens of them. Eighteen hours of cutting, sticking, redubbing, finding a bit of dead air just the right tone to fill the gap, cutting, sticking.
Yep you heard that right though. EIGHTEEN HOURS. But it was worth it in the end to get that kid his little bumper on our program. But boy did he have the sniffles. It all worked out in the end however because when his segment hit the air the kid sounded like a natural alright.”