Children’s Wish lottery makes wishes come true

Jodi Schellenberg
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Every year, the Children’s Wish Foundation works hard to grant requests to children across Saskatchewan.

Evan Volk, one of the lucky children the Children’s Wish Foundation has helped, was able to meet the Toronto Blue Jays and tour Toronto thanks to the foundation.

Last year, the number of wishes they granted went from an average of 55 per year to 70, director Gay Oldhaver said.

“We are hoping that maybe people are becoming more aware and taking that leap of faith,” she said. “Some people don’t want to be shot down or they don’t want to be rejected.

“It is a very tough call to make because parents (and) family feel that they make that call, their child is very, very sick and they are admitting that,” she added. “On the other hand, if you don’t make that call, then your child and your family may not get that very special, magical opportunity. It is that little bit of a conundrum that I know parents go through.”

The majority of their referrals come through the medical system, but it helps to hear from the family.

“It expedites the process by having a family member call us and then we can get right to the parents,” Oldhaver said. “We can’t go out and phone people randomly or even on a tip from a nurse or a doctor. We have to have permission and we usually need the permission to be the parents calling us.”

If a family member calls and gives them permission to call the parents, it makes it easier than if a nurse contacts them.

“We are much more comfortable taking that direction from a family member,” she said. “It can make the wish go quite a bit quicker.”

Although Children’s Wish is there to help sick children, sometimes the parents don’t realize what they can do for their children.

“I’ve heard them say, ‘We could give our child a trip to Disney World if we wanted,’ but maybe that is not the absolute magical wish that the child could have,” Oldhaver said. “I’m not saying that Disney World is not magical.”

One family was planning a trip to Disney World after their son’s treatment but learned he wanted to see a Washington Capitals hockey game.

“They could never have done that on their own because they didn’t have that ability to make those arrangements whereas once he told us his wish, it was up and running within a couple of months,” Oldhaver said. “That was right from the mom.

“She was actually in tears explaining it because she said, ‘We just never thought of the possibility of allowing Braden (their son) make that wish and that dream come true,’” she added. “It was pretty profound hearing her tell that story. That was just getting to the wish -- that was nothing to do with how the wish turned out.”

They have helped numerous children around the province. In Prince Albert, earlier this year, they helped create a live-action Super Mario game at the Rawlinson Centre.

“Super Mario remains to be the most unique wish, not just in Saskatchewan but potentially in Canada,” Oldhaver said.

Evan Volk, from the central part of the province, wished to see a Toronto Blue Jays game and had an amazing experience, from seeing the airplane cockpit, touring Toronto, went to batting practice with the Jays and was part of a live broadcast.

Shaleah Whitefish, originally from Prince Albert, got to visit Disney World and see her favourite Disney princesses.

Children’s Wish will do everything from travel wishes to items, such as campers or computers.

“Our first reaction is, ‘Let us think about it, we will find a way,’” Oldhaver said. “Very seldom do I have to say no right off the hop -- except for the moon. I can’t do that. I can say no to that right away but very seldom do I say full on no.”

Instead she works to build the wish the way the children see it happening.

The Million Dollar Lottery is one of the ways they can fund the wishes.

“Lottery is the pinnacle of our ability to be able to provide these wishes -- not that this is our only money to work with but it is that rock that we have to work with,” Oldhaver said.

“We do many other fundraisers but the lottery being province-wide, border to border, we are hoping to sell 36,000 tickets across Saskatchewan,” she added. “Of course, it is expensive to run a lottery but in the end, the charity ends up with a fairly nice net proceeds amount that for us, allows us to do what we do in the best way possible.”

The early bird deadline this year has moved up to Aug. 21 and the last day to buy tickets will be Aug. 28.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-661-WISH (1-800-661-9474) or by visiting the website

Organizations: Disney World, Prince Albert, Toronto Blue Jays Washington Capitals Rawlinson Centre

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada, Toronto

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