PARAMUS, N.J. -- A 10-year-old Paramus girl living with a life-threatening respiratory system disease who finds enjoyment in the carefree activity of being cradled in a swing was granted a wish from Make-A-Wish New Jersey for one right in her backyard.
The New Jersey chapter of the popular nonprofit, Make-A-Wish -- its national headquarters of which have been rooted in Phoenix for almost 40 years -- granted Gabriella Lo Cicero with an accessible play set this past summer with a portion of the $458,000 that 67 Jersey Mike’s Subs throughout the Garden State raised during its annual “Day of Giving” Campaign in March for the organization. Held every March, diners are invited to come into the restaurant chain and donate to a local charity partner. On the final day of the month, 100 percent of the day’s sales are donated to the local charity partner as part of a national culmination of the campaign.
Make-A-Wish, which has 60 chapters all over the country with operations overseas in 45 other countries, grants life-changing wishes for children afflicted with a critical illness who are between the ages of 2 ½ and 18 at the time of their referral. Gabriella was one of Make-A-Wish New Jersey’s nearly 50 wish recipients who benefited from Jersey Mike’s “Day of Giving” campaign. She was referred from a member of her medical team after having endured numerous surgeries early in her life to treat a brain injury she’s had since birth.
While Gabriella is currently on a ventilator and requires round-the-clock medical care, her mother Laura took notice of how much her brown-eyed, brunette little girl loved being on the wheelchair-accessible swings on the playground at school. Though visiting the park proved to be too taxing for Gabriella, her family thought of bringing the park to her with her very own swing and playset to enjoy in the company of her siblings at her leisure.
“Make-A-Wish made everything so easy, and made Gabriella so happy,” Gabriella’s mom, Laura, told Make-A-Wish New Jersey, whose headquarters have been in Monroe Township since 1983.
According to Make-A-Wish, “a wish helps kids look past their limitations, families overcome anxiety, and entire communities experience joy” while improving a child’s quality of life in addition to relieving stress for caregivers.
“For her and her siblings to be able to do something together, and for me to be able to see them together, playing...it just makes me so happy,” said Laura. “We are so grateful.”
For more information about Make-A-Wish New Jersey, go to nj.wish.org. To learn about Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving, visit jerseymikes.com/giving.