576 Communities Unite for Children’s Wellness Across Canada: More Than 377,000 Canadians Connected Through Wishes in 2023, Reports Make-A-Wish Canada 

Canadians Connected Through Wishes
May, 2024

MAY 8, 2024 – Make-A-Wish® Canada’s 2023 Annual Impact Report reveals a country unified in support of the wellness of children with critical illness. Last year, the non-profit charitable organization reports, more than 377,000 Canadians from 576 communities across the country bound together on a shared mission: to grant wishes for children with critical illnesses.  

“We see time and time again that when a child is sick, not only does the family step up to do everything within their power to help, but their community does too,” Meaghan Stovel McKnight, Chief Executive Officer of Make-A-Wish Canada says. “Whether that’s one of our 1,000+ volunteers helping a wish kid in their community, a local business supporting a wish, the child’s classmates doing something special, or their family’s medical team, we see communities unite around these wish children to bring strength and joy when they need it the most.”  

It’s a message that resonates now as this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. In an annual survey, 90% of medical practitioners said that a wish experience improves a child’s emotional well-being including alleviating feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. 

In the Greater Toronto Area, Make-A-Wish Canada volunteer Sanju Vashist answered the call last year to help 10-year-old wish kid Olivia, diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia. After waking up “having turned yellow,” Olivia spent 269 days in hospital the first year of her diagnosis alone.  

With the help of wish granting volunteers like Sanju, Olivia’s family, friends and school community, and Make-A-Wish Canada donors, Olivia had the SpongeBob SquarePants wish reveal party of her dreams and was sent on a trip to meet the character at the Nickelodeon resort for her 11th birthday. “It was the best seven days we’ve ever had in our lives,” her mom Renee shares.  

In Truro, Nova Scotia, nine-year-old Jacob and his family faced an unpleasant surprise when he was diagnosed with leukemia.  

With support from Make-A-Wish Canada donors and his local community, Jacob was sent on the trip of a lifetime to the Walt Disney Resort during the organization’s 40th anniversary group wish trip last summer. “[Wishes] make the [kids] feel like someone is taking care of them,” his dad Abu shares.  

In Calgary, Make-A-Wish Canada volunteer wish granter Lisa Dempsey was inspired to help make wishes come true for kids wish critical illness. Valentin, from an active western Canadian family, slowly lost his ability to ride a bike due to his diagnosis of Friedreich Ataxia, a rare progressive neuromuscular disorder.  

Valentin benefited from volunteers like Lisa, local businesses and Make-A-Wish Canada donors when he made a wish to get an adaptive trike so he could get back out on the trails with his friends and family. Today, Valentin’s physical and mental health have been transformed thanks to his wish.   

Valentin’s wish was one of 1,389 wishes granted in 2023 alone, the organization having grown its wish-granting by 44% from 2022 with support from donors, volunteers and communities across Canada.  

“For children like Olivia, Jacob and Valentin and their families, the benefit of the experience is not only the wish coming true, but it’s also the love and support they feel from their community throughout the process,” Stovel McKnight explains. “Being a child with a critical illness, or being the parent or sibling of one, can be an incredibly isolating experience. A wish helps them feel not so alone.” 

To read Make-A-Wish Canada’s full 2023 Annual Impact Report, please visit: https://makeawish.ca/about/financials/ 

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Media Inquiries: 

Kimberley Heron, Manager, Corporate Communications 
Make-A-Wish Canada 
[email protected] 

ABOUT MAKE-A-WISH CANADA  

Make-A-Wish® creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We are on a quest to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. As an independently operating affiliate of Make-A-Wish International, Make-A-Wish Canada is part of the network of the world’s leading children’s wish-granting organization. We serve children in communities across Canada, and in 50 countries worldwide. Make-A-Wish Canada has granted almost 39,000 wishes over the past 40 years with 1,389 of them last year alone. For more information about Make-A-Wish Canada, visit makeawish.ca