Valerie Coukoulis is used to having tough conversations. She is a social worker in the rehabilitation department at Seattle Children’s, where she works with children who have medical conditions like muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.
But one of the best parts of her job, she said, is referring her patients to Make-A-Wish. “Make-A-Wish is a great opportunity to talk about something that’s joyful.”
When kids are diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, their worlds are turned upside down. They suddenly enter a world where they’ve lost control over their own lives and the carefree days of childhood are a distant memory.
That’s where Make-A-Wish comes in. “There are so many things done in the medical system that are out of their control,” Valerie said. “[A wish] is something they have control over, and they get to make choices. It’s something really joyful that they get to choose.”
And the joy of a wish reaches far beyond the child. “When I think about Make-A-Wish, I think of the difference it makes not only in the child’s life, but the family,” she added.
“I think about the siblings, and all of the sacrifices they have to make after watching their sibling go through treatment. I think about the parents who have supported their children and watched them struggle,” she said. “Kids and families continue to tell me how important and fun a wish is.”
Valerie first started working with Make-A-Wish when she was interning at Seattle Children’s four years ago. Since then, she’s worked in different departments and continues to refer patients for wishes because she sees the value in the experience.
“This work is hard at times, and it’s important for me to know that Make-A-Wish is reaching these families in their time of need.”
Thanks to Valerie, and all of our referral sources, for making wishes possible for local kids! If you know a child who might qualify for a wish, fill out our online referral form.