When Paul first met 14-year-old Parker it wasn’t in your typical meeting location.
Most times, wish-granting volunteers meet wish kids in their home or at the hospital. This meeting was in Parker’s garage. The dimly lit space was crowded with storage boxes galore. An old, broken cabinet towered against the plasterboard walls and atop cement floors. There was an old TV and a broken X-Box. This was Parker’s game room.
Parker cannot be more than two hours away from the hospital because he is waiting for a heart transplant. So, his wish was to renovate his game room to have a place just for him while he waits for his heart.
Parker’s game room is one of many wishes Paul has granted since he began volunteering in 2011. “My favorite part is talking with the wish child… exploring wish ideas and how we can expand on the wish experience,” Paul said.
While Parker waited for his new game room, he and Paul talked about what it would be like—down to the movie posters on the wall and the smell of popcorn filling the room. “[The wish] gives the child and their families something positive to think about and look forward to,” he said. “I have seen how just talking about the wish will put a smile on the wish child's face.”
On his wish day, Parker arrived to a surprise silly-string welcome before opening the doors to his new game room for the first time. “Seeing Parker smile I felt proud and accomplished, knowing he now had an awesome space where he can wait for and recover from a heart transplant,” said Paul.
Paul helps Grady plan for his wish trip to Washington, D.C.
For Paul, the wish isn’t just something he provides for his wish kids; it’s also a common experience he shares with them. “Just like how the children think about their wish, being a wish-granting volunteer brightens my day,” he said. “I look forward to participating in wish-granting activities, and I feel proud and privileged when I am. It reminds me of the positive power of giving.”
Feeling inspired to make wishes like Parker’s come true? Make a donation today in his honor to make more magical wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Currently, there are more than 400 children awaiting their wishes and many more we have yet to reach due to a lack of funding.
(April 7, 2017) We are sad to share the news that longtime Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington volunteer, Paul Mader, has passed away. Paul was an all-star volunteer that made many wish children and their families happy amidst the chaos of critical illness. His deep voice was commanding, yet soothing. His smile was warm and gentle. And he had a heart of gold. He will be missed.