For the past three birthdays, 11-year-old Marcel hasn’t asked for presents. Instead, he’s using his birthday as a chance to help other children with the gift of a wish.
Marcel first became involved with Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington when his older brother requested a small donation in lieu of gifts for his birthday. But it was when Marcel visited the office that it became clear to him what Make-A-Wish does and why.
“It’s important to help ill kids,” said Marcel. “They‘re going through treatment. They need something to take their mind off of it, to make them feel better.”
At home, Marcel became even more familiar with the mission when his mom, Gina, signed up to be a wish-granting volunteer and helped the local office launch a Spanish-language referral line. They asked lots of questions and helped Gina brainstorm ideas for wish presentation parties.
“Make-A-Wish has made such a big impact on our family,” said Marcel’s dad, Ibo. “Everyone is involved at home. It puts everything in perspective and shows our sons that nothing is impossible.”
“What inspired me is seeing kids with illnesses, and knowing that Make-A-Wish needs money to grant their wishes,” said Marcel.
So, when Marcel was in third grade, he looked around and decided he didn’t need any gifts for his birthday. He wanted his friends and family to donate money to grant wishes, instead.
“I wanted my friends to know that some kids have illnesses that are hard to treat,” said Marcel. He knew that by introducing his friends to Make-A-Wish, he could also teach them how to help.
“It takes more than one donor. If more kids help, more wishes can be granted,” said Marcel.
Now, Marcel has made a yearly tradition of foregoing birthday gifts in favor of donations, though his friends occasionally give him gifts and beautiful homemade cards in addition to donations. He hand-delivers the money to the Make-A-Wish office in Seattle each year.
“You feel proud; you realize your kids become your teachers in ways you never imagined,” said Gina of her son’s donations.
Right now, more than 500 local kids are waiting for their wishes. You, too, can start a fundraising project like Marcel did and help us grant more wishes. Find out more about starting a Kids for Wish Kids® program in your community.