Here at Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida®, our mission is simple: Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Over the past 30 years, we’ve been zealous in our pursuit of this mission because we have seen the impact that wishes have on a child’s life.
On the surface, it’s easy to see how a new playset, bedroom makeover, or celebrity meet-and-greet can boost a child’s spirits, but wishes go much further. Studies have consistently shown that wishes benefit a child’s mental health as well.
It is an honor and a joy to serve this community of remarkable children and play a part in putting a smile on their faces. But before a wish can be fulfilled, we need to connect with children who are eligible to receive a wish.
Who Is Eligible For a Wish?
At Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida®, our vision is to grant the wish of every eligible child. Here is the criteria we use to determine wish eligibility.
Age of the Child
In order to qualify for a wish, children must be between the ages of 2½ and 17 when they are referred to the program. However, this does not mean that they must be under 18 to receive their wish.
At the time of referral, children must be diagnosed with a critical illness. Make-A-Wish defines a critical illness as “a progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition that has placed the child’s life in jeopardy.”
Previous Wish Experience
Finally, to be eligible for Make-A-Wish, children must not have had a wish fulfilled by another wish-granting organization.
This policy allows us to focus our support on those who have not yet experienced the life-changing joy of a wish.
Does Make-A-Wish Have Any Financial Requirements?
No, a family’s financial situation is never used to determine eligibility.
Which Illnesses Are Considered Critical?
The children who are part of the Make-A-Wish program come to us with a wide range of diagnoses and we are aware that each of them is on their own unique medical journey.
Each child—even those with the same illness—may have completely different experiences, symptoms, and conditions. For this reason, Make-A-Wish eligibility is rarely based purely on a child’s diagnosis.
Instead, we look at every applicant’s health on a case-by-case basis, relying on the advice of the child’s own medical team as well as the pediatric specialists who serve on our board.
Referring a Child To Make-A-Wish
The best way for us to determine a child’s eligibility for Make-A-Wish is by receiving detailed information about the child’s health through a referral.
Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida currently accepts referrals from:
- Critically ill children,
- Their parents or legal guardians,
- Family members with detailed knowledge of the child’s condition, or
- The child’s medical team (i.e. doctor, nurse, social worker, or child life specialist).
Even if you are unable to refer a child, we encourage you to share information about the life-changing mission of Make-A-Wish with someone who can. This helps us in our goal to fulfill a wish for every eligible child.
What Is the Wish Process Like?
After receiving a referral, we reach out to the child’s physician to learn more about their condition. This not only helps us determine eligibility, it provides valuable information about how to best grant their wish!
This information is then shared with our Wish Discovery Volunteers, who help our wish kids choose three wishes that would be most impactful to them.
Even at this stage in the wish-granting process, the child’s health and safety are our top priority. Our volunteers are trained to ask questions about medical and accessibility needs, such as navigating with a wheelchair or oxygen tank, storing medications safely, and even dietary restrictions.
Choosing the final wish from this list is a process that we at Make-A-Wish take very seriously. In addition to making sure the wish is memorable and enjoyable, we also verify the details with the child’s medical team to find out how to best support their health.
Join Our Mission!
Simply knowing that a wish is coming can provide a child with untold joy during a difficult time. By connecting us with these individuals, you’re helping Make-A-Wish fulfill its mission of granting a wish to every eligible child.
As we continue to support and celebrate the work of Make-A-Wish, we are reminded of the power of compassion, the strength of community, and the enduring spirit of hope that unites us all in the face of adversity.
If you would like to refer a child to Make-A-Wish or help us grant wishes to children in your community, please contact our local offices today to get started.