Lou loves volunteering so much he hasn’t stopped for 22 years.
“I continue to volunteer because I have so much fun doing it,” Lou said. “It’s so rewarding. I feel great after every wish. The whole process is fabulous.”
He loves interacting with wish families whose children are going through tough treatments because he knows wishes matter. In fact, research shows that children who have wishes granted build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. This improves their quality of life and produces better health outcomes.
“The hope we give them when we say the words ‘We are going to grant this and there’s no cost to you,’ the utter disbelief, uplifting their spirits … There’s nothing better than to see that smile on the families’ faces … I just get so much out of it and I like to bring joy to kids.” Lou said.
Lou is a father of two and a retired physical education teacher. Nowadays, Lou is a substitute teacher and an ultimate Frisbee and basketball coach at the school where he used to teach. He says his flexible work schedule allows him to dedicate his free time to granting a lot of wishes.
When volunteers like Lou grant a wish for a child with a critical illness, they replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. Studies show that 98 percent of parents felt that their wish experience gave them the chance to be a “normal” family again. Lou has seen it first-hand as a volunteer.
“The wish just gives them something to look forward to in their darkest days when they’re not feeling well, when they’ve got more chemo treatments and they just need something to boost their spirits,” Lou said. “I think having something that’s coming at the end of the treatment is exactly what they need.”
Volunteering also brought Lou into a community of similarly-minded people, he said.
“To be around people who all share the same vision of helping families out, it’s just priceless,” Lou said. “We talk about the different wishes we’ve been on and we share the joy, share the grief. It’s just a really special opportunity.”
And, Lou loves to bring others into the Make-A-Wish community. For the past 14 years, he has hosted Laps with Lou, a run to benefit Make-A-Wish held at his former school. It’s the support of his students that keeps Lou running—last year for 66 laps—and a testament, he says, to the power of a wish.
“I am completely humbled by how passionate the student body is,” said Lou. “I think the biggest impact on the school is the coming together of the community to help those in need.”
Whether you have four hours or 40, you can make a big difference in the lives of local children with critical illnesses. Take the first step and sign up for our next online volunteer training today!