Some might call Erika Jackman a superwoman. She’s a pilot travelling the world for her profession. But she’s also a loving and dedicated wife, mother of three young daughters, and a wish-granting volunteer.
How does she do it all? “People would be really surprised by the wish-granting process, the flexibility and how easy it is to succeed as a volunteer,” she says.
Erika didn’t set out to intentionally become a volunteer. It just sort of happened when a friend asked her for a favor. Her friend was a Make-A-Wish volunteer and was planning a wish for an 11-year-old named Kara who wanted to go on the longest flight possible. At the time, Kara’s prognosis wasn’t good so her wish-granting volunteers were pulling out all the stops to make sure her Make-A-Wish experience was top-notch. That’s where Erika came in. Kara loved the particular type of aircraft that Erika flew professionally so she was asked her if she would give her a behind-the-scenes tour.
That tour lasted several hours, but it was only minutes in before Erika was hooked on Make-A-Wish. “I remember her mom crying as she told me that they had decided to stop treatment on Kara’s inoperable brain tumor and the wish was providing their family with one last epic adventure to enjoy together and to make memories.”
Remarkably, Kara came back from that vacation and the tumor just stopped growing. To this day, there is no explanation as to why, but Erika thinks she knows, “I believe the wish experience helps the child recover from their illness.”
Research shows that Erika’s onto something. Wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival.
Today, Kara is 18 years old and is very close with Erika and her family. She has flown to Seattle multiple times to visit Erika and her husband. In fact, she has visited and met each one of Erika’s young daughters.
“As a volunteer, the connections that you make and the changes you facilitate for these children and their families really do make a difference in their lives and your own,” says Erika. “It makes me a better person; it enriches my life. It allows me to provide them with something magical.”
Right now, there is a long waiting line for wishes. Children are waiting because there aren’t enough volunteers to grant their wishes when they need it most. Can you help? Find out more about becoming a volunteer at akwa.wish.org/volunteer.
“There are a lot of volunteer opportunities where you really wonder does what I do matter? With Make-A-Wish it’s different. You know it matters!”