Ariel experienced a large decline in her cross-country running times during her sophomore year of high school and knew something was wrong. She was surprised to find out the cause was an autoimmune disorder called aplastic anemia which would require years of drug therapy and many days spent in the hospital. Discouraged and frustrated, Ariel wondered if she would ever be able to achieve her athletic goals.
Flash forward nine years, and Ariel is a healthy, accomplished wish alumni who successfully competed in both cross country and track and field in college. She’s now a college graduate with a full-time career. What was the spark of these accomplishments? “I credit it all to my wish,” Ariel says.
Ariel wished to go to the summer games. She was able to watch the final match of the U.S. women’s soccer team, something she had always dreamed of.
“My wish allowed me to witness so many incredible athletes, see that spark and joy they had competing,” she said. “We shared a common interest in competing and doing something we loved.”
And that’s not all. Seeing this strength inspired Ariel.
“I came back and it was night and day. All of a sudden, my performance started to improve, and I was running near where I was running before I got sick,” she said. “Having a week to not think about my sickness brought back my drive and hope; it was transformative.”
Wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival. When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. Ariel’s wish transformed fear of not being good enough and anxiety for what the future held into confidence in her abilities and hope that she would soon have the strength again to accomplish all her goals.
The majority of kids whose wishes we grant go on to beat their illnesses and live typical, healthy lives. Ariel is a testament to this fact, demonstrating how her wish not only helped her beat her illness, but lead her to many of her future successes.
“When I went to college, I was able to far exceed any goals I set for myself,” Ariel says, “I owe that to my wish. Without that, I don’t think I would have challenged myself or held myself to the standard I did before getting sick.”
Ariel’s wish would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the incredible generosity and dedication of the employees at Slalom. This wish was one of the first wishes to be granted in partnership Slalom and was just the start of all the dreams Slalom has been able to make come true.
This year, Slalom participated in its first Make-A-Wish mileage drive, setting a goal of raising 275,000 miles in three weeks—with the intent of raising enough airline miles to send a wish family of five to a domestic destination.
Within the first day of the drive, employees at Slalom shattered their original goal and were determined to further their impact. Slalom employees rallied together and raised over 1.75 million miles for wish kids and their families! The success of Slalom’s inaugural mileage drive will help Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington create a lasting impact for five wish kids and their families.
More than 80 percent of wishes involve airline travel, and it’s one of our largest expenses. Slalom’s mileage drive raised over 27 roundtrip tickets; that equates to about $14,000 we didn’t have to spend on airfare. And that’s not all. Anyone can donate frequent flier miles to help send wish kids and their families to their wish destinations.
Make-A-Wish board member and General Manager at Slalom, Jila Javdani, reflects on the mileage drive experience saying, “It was so heartwarming to see the way Slalom’s employees in Seattle rallied around the mileage drive. I have always known my colleagues are kind and compassionate, but I was so touched to see the way everyone came together to blow each goal we set (we kept raising our goal) out of the water. Thank you to everyone who was part of creating magic for five wish kids and their families.”
Knowing that Slalom made her dream a reality, Ariel said, “I will always be indebted to them. Every time they are mentioned in the media I feel this pride, this connection to them. They are an awesome company, and I hope more companies are able to rally around Make-A-Wish as well.”
Your gift of time and money is crucial for kids battling critical illnesses. This year our chapter will grant 392 wishes but that’s just the beginning. Right now, we could fill seven school buses with the number of children who are waiting for their wishes. And the majority of that funding comes from individuals and corporate champions just like you. With your help, we can provide kids hope, motivation, and the will to continue striving for their goals, just like Slalom was able to provide to Ariel.
See how you can get started today!