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Wish Impact & Facts

A wish is much more than just a nice thing. And its reach extends far beyond a single event, or moment in time. Wish kids, parents, medical professionals, volunteers, and others say that wish experiences can change the lives of everyone involved, forever.

Wish Impact

According to the results of a 2011 Wish Impact Study that surveyed former wish kids, wish parents, wish-granting volunteers, and involved medical professionals, a wish come true empowers children with life-threatening medical conditions to fight harder against their illnesses. When they are granted a wish, they get more than just a great experience for a day, two days, or a week. That experience improves the quality of life for them and their entire family.

Looking back years after their wish experiences, adult former wish kids tell us that the experience served as a turning point in their battle for health, a means of returning their focus on the future, shaping their lives as adults and even helping to save their lives. Their parents tell us that the wish experience pulled their families back together again, gave their sick kids renewed energy and a better state of mind to fight their illnesses or conditions, and brought a sense of normalcy back to their homes. And medical professionals treating our wish kids – physicians, nurses, social workers and child-life specialists – say the wish experience makes for better patients by easing kids’ fears and increasing their willingness to comply with tough treatment protocols, all of which can influence their physical health.

Improved Heath Status
Adult former wish kids, wish parents and attending health professionals agree that a wish experience has the following impact on wish kids’ health status:
  • The wish experience can improve a wish kid’s physical health.
  • A wish come true can mark a positive turning point in the child’s battle for health.
  • A wish come true makes kids feel stronger and more energetic.
  • The wish experience helps them comply with difficult, but vital, treatment regimens.
  • In addition, a strong majority of adult former wish kids say that the wish experience helped to save their lives.
83 percent of adult former wish kids say they experienced improved physical health and strength.*

Enhanced State of Mind
  • Wish kids and their parents alike experience more happiness and less fear in their lives.
  • Wish kids are less isolated from friends, and feel a return of self-confidence that comes with feeling “normal” again.
  • The wish experience gives them a “can-do” attitude, and inspires many of them to take up challenges they had thought were not possible.
  • They are empowered to take back control of their lives, and to keep up the fight against their life-threatening medical conditions.
  • Parents say their family units – often strained to the limit by stresses of the illnesses – are repaired and strengthened through the shared experience of the wish process.
99 percent of parents reported that the wish experience gave their children increased feelings of happiness.*

Strengthened Communities
  • Volunteers feel an increased sense of compassion and desire to help others in their community.
  • They feel a renewed faith in humanity.
  • They trust others more and feel more optimistic about the future.
  • Volunteers and adult former wish kids alike feel a greater long-term commitment to philanthropy.
  • Adult former wish kids, wanting to “pay forward” the positive experiences they received in their wishes, say they are choosing careers that empower them to help others.
95 percent of community volunteers reported an increased sense of compassion.*

* “Wish Impact Study Results” (consolidated results), July 29, 2013.

...receiving this gift made us stronger and more confident and motivated us to hold Sara's hand and continue the fight of Leukemia. ”

— Wish Parents Ray & Beatrice

Denalli, 4, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I wish to go to Disney World

Denalli, 4, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I wish to go to Disney World

General Wish Facts

  • Make-A-Wish has granted more than 315,000 wishes in the U.S. and its territories since our inception in 1980.
  • Last year, Make-A-Wish granted more than 15,600 wishes throughout the U.S. and its territories
  • To qualify for a wish, a child with a critical illness must be older than 2½ years and younger than 18 (at the time of referral) and must not have received a wish from another wish-granting organization.
  • A child can be referred by potential wish kids, medical professionals, parents, legal guardians and family members with detailed knowledge of the child's current medical condition.
  • Following referral, a certified medical professional must verify that the child has a critical illness. There are no other qualifications based on sex, race, religion, socioeconomic status or any other demographic category.
  • Make-A-Wish serves every community in the United States and its territories through 60 chapters nationwide.
  • Nearly 40,000 volunteers across the U.S. and its territories help us grant thousands of wishes each year.
  • The average cost of a wish in South Dakota is nearly $7,500.


Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. ”

— Make-A-Wish® Mission

Jaxon, 8, Crohn's Disease, I wish to go on a Nickelodeon Cruise

Jaxon, 8, Crohn's Disease, I wish to go on a Nickelodeon Cruise

Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana
1400 West 17th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
(605) 335-8000
Toll Free (800) 640-9198
Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana, Black Hills Office
14 Saint Joseph St. Suite 302
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 791-4500
Toll Free (800) 640-9198
Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana, Montana Regional Office
1015 Mount Ave
Suite C
Missoula, MT 59801
(406) 259-9848