Health & Wellness

Make-A-Wish Hopes to Grant More Wishes than Ever

Make-A-Wish Castle Credits: Patricia Feeney
Feeney Family Entering the Castle Credits: Courtesy of Make-A-Wish

MONROE, NJ  - The Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place Castle in Monroe Township lit up the night sky the evening of November 5th. The New Jersey chapter of Make-A-Wish unveiled a new initiative to encourage local medical professionals to prescribe Make-A-Wish to every eligible child in New Jersey. The Every Eligible Child Initiative is part of Make-A-Wish America’s plan to grant wishes to more children than ever.

Last year, domestic chapters of Make-A-Wish granted 14,799 wishes nation-wide, with hopes to grant a total of 17,000 wishes nation-wide by the year 2020. In New Jersey alone, 450 unique and special wishes were granted in 2015; the second highest amount of wishes granted in their 32 year history. Those wishes included animal companions, celebrity experiences, international travel, Disney World experiences, cruises, birthday parties, play sets, room makeovers, shopping sprees, computers, and much more.

Stacy Kreizman, Senior Director of Outreach and Mission Delivery, said, “For Make-A-Wish chapters across the country, especially here in New Jersey, it’s becoming increasingly more evident to us that the medical community is as crucial a part of our ability to reach our goals, as our chapter staff, volunteers and donors. That being said, if Make-A-Wish America is going to reach 17,000 wishes by the year 2020, we need to change the way we reach patients like we never have before.”

Sign Up for E-News

Many local hospitals have already been making the Every Eligible Child Initiative a priority for their staff. Morristown Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center received awards for being Make-A-Wish New Jersey’s Top Referring Hospitals in 2015. In addition, St. Peter’s University Hospital also received a special recognition award for reaching 100 referrals in 5 years.

Dr. Carlos Lastra, Chief of Pediatric Neurology and Epilepsy at St. Peter’s University Hospital said, “I would like to thank everybody and anybody who participates in Make-A-Wish. One grain of sand doesn’t do anything, many grains of sand, many bricks helped to build this castle. And this Castle fulfills the wishes of many children.”

In December of 2011, thanks to the generosity of a caring community of New Jerseyans and spear-headed by a $3 million gift from Joe Plumeri, then Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings, Make-A-Wish New Jersey built The Samuel and Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place. The only one of its kind, the Wishing Place provides an environment that is free of limitations, confinement, and stress. It stimulates the imagination and reveals to seriously-ill children the imaginative possibilities of a wish. And every night the Wishing Place lights up, casting abeautiful glow into the night sky to symbolize the beacon of hope that these wishes become.

On the evening of November 5th, the Make-A-Wish Castle was a bright beacon of hope and, inside, staff members gave tours of The Wishing Place. Pat Zagnit stood in the “Inspiration Room,” painted by local artists with wish ideas, where children can sit and think about what wish they would like to make.  Zagnit said of her years on the Make-A-Wish staff, “It’s the best job I’ve ever had because it’s always with the child in mind. It’s so special for children and the families to have a very special wish and we take it very seriously.”

Among those attending the dinner were several volunteers who give of their time for the cause.  Volunteer photographer, Christina Smith, said, “I document a child's journey through some of the darkest times in their lives, as well as photographing the happiest times when they are granted their wish and get to fulfill it. The moment their wish is granted, their attitudes and moods transition into happiness and they forget they are sick. I get to photograph the transition as it is happening. Their laughter and their smiles make your heart melt.”

One parent of four, who has two children with Cystic Fibrosis, said, “Cystic Fibrosis is something our whole family deals with every day. It was great for my wife and I and all the kids to have such a great time on this vacation and just be kids again.” Make-A-Wish New Jersey granted a wish for both children; the family went to Disney to meet Pluto for their younger child and, several years later, went to Hawaii for their older child to learn how to surf. The father added that for each trip, “They were just kids for the whole week and there were no worries with what we did. It was just fun and more fun.”

Photographer Smith added, “They might not ask for a trip to Disney World or Australia but it could be a simple birthday party with bubbles or pirates or face painting. The children and their families come back mentally and physically healthier. Any wish granted is a time when all the pain of the daily grind of a child's health issues disappears. The families get to forget about doctors and needles and appointments and medicines. They laugh and smile and feel whole again. Nothing can replace how I feel to get to be a part of those memories. Everybodywins when a wish is granted by Make-A-Wish.”

Kreizman closed the event saying, “We all have come together to share our special mission for something that is so much bigger then ourselves, a mission that’s resonated with some of you for many years.” Kreizman asked the doctors and medical professionals in the room, “Prescribe Make-A-Wish to your patients because sometimes, as you know, a wish is the most powerful medicine there is.”

The evening ended with a 15-year-old wish recipient taking up his guitar to sing “Gravity.” The words washed over the crowd, “Gravity is working against me. And gravity wants to bring me down. I’ll never know what makes this man with all the love that is in his heart can stand.” And as the last words of his song echoed through the Make-A-Wish Castle that night,“Just keep me where the light is. Just keep me where the light is…” There was not a dry eye in the house.  In the darkest moments for children who are struggling with life threatening illnesses and their families, Make-A-Wish strives to be that light, a symbol of hope, strength and joy.

 

Editor’s Note: South Plainfield Resident Patricia Feeney and her family participated in the Make-A-Wish program this year; they were granted their wish to visit family in Colorado. Patricia Feeney also attended this event on November 5th.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Joshua Ward Boys’ Winter Track

Since winning both the Blue Division Relay and Blue Division Individual Championships the Boys’ Winter Track team has still been busy competing.  The team competed in both the Sectional Championships and Group II Championships.  The team continues to have success largely in part of returning senior Pole Vaulter Joshua Ward.

South Plainfield Senior entered winter ...

Obituaries

Fords – Raymond Vincent Wentzheimer, 65, passed away on Saturday, February 18, 20 Born in ...
Read more
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  - Carol R. Osterberg passed away at her home surrounded by her family on ...
Read more
South Plainfield, NJ – Brian Evans, 53, passed away on Friday, February 17, 2017 at JFK ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Kara Podlovits Named to Dean's List at Loyola University Maryland

February 22, 2017

BALTIMORE, MD -- Loyola University Maryland has announced the members of its fall 2016 Dean's List. In order to qualify for the Dean's List at Loyola, a student must achieve a minimum QPA of at least 3.500 for the term, provided that, in the term they have successfully completed courses totaling a minimum of 15 credits.

Kara Podlovits, class of 2019 from South Plainfield

Established ...

Community Happenings

Sensory Storytime Being Offered at the South Plainfield Library

February 19, 2017

This program is designed to be an inclusive event for preschool-young adult aged individuals with special needs.Sensory story time will be presented in a way to make participants more comfortable than they might be at a standard story time.

SPHS Senior Scott Riccardi named 2017 National Merit Scholarship Finalist

February 22, 2017

Scott Riccardi, a South Plainfield High School senior, has been named a 2017 National Merit Scholarship Finalist.  Scott is among the top 1% of the 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT(r)).  In addition, Scott presently has a 4.7/4 GPA, is taking 5 AP classes, and involved in ...

Sacred Heart Lenten Fish Dinners

February 22, 2017

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Knights of Columbus Council #6203 and Sacred Heart Church, will again be sponsoring  Lenten Fish Dinners on March 3, March 10 March 17, March 24, March 31 & April 7

Dinners will be served in the Holy Savior Academy Cafeteria located at 149 South Plainfield Ave, South Plainfield, from 5PM to 7PM each Friday during Lent. 

The menu will ...

Borough Looking for Full Time Clerk/Cashier

Department of Tax Collection – The Borough of South Plainfield is looking for an experienced fulltime Cashier/Clerical Staff to handle tax and sewer billings for the Borough of South Plainfield. The ideal candidate should have strong customer service and clerical/organizational skills. Task will include handling cash and processing tax and sewer bills. Running of various closing reports, ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_46ee4c235c76a7ccdb8c_the_witness_from_the_balcony_of_rm_306_flyer-page-001

Sat, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Movies being shown at the South Plainfield ...

Carousel_image_067278ef84e84bf23c56_teen_movie_afternoon-page-001

Sat, February 25, 2:30 PM

South Plainfield

Teen Movie at Library - Miss Peregrine's Home for ...

Carousel_image_f3384d1a5f452ff65f9a_all_you_can_eat

Sun, February 26, 8:00 AM

South Plainfield

All you can eat breakfast - SPMS Student Council ...

Sun, February 26, 1:00 PM

Westfield

Open House in Westfield

Home & Garden Real Estate

Carousel_image_82873632a87056453068_auditions-news-800x450

Sun, February 26, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

Auditions for 9th Annual Talent Showcase

Carousel_image_1d628c33db30d846e2b7_sensory_storytime

Sun, February 26, 3:30 PM

South Plainfield

Special Needs Sensory Storytime at the Library

Columns

I Loved Her at the Movies by Robert J. Wagner and Scott Eyman

I Loved Her at the Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses by Robert J. Wagner with Scott Eyman (Viking, 2016)

 

I Loved Her at the Movies, by veteran actor Robert J. Wagner, begins with his first encounter with a major screen star, Norma Shearer. At the age of eight, Wagner was a school mate of Irving Thalberg, Jr., Shearer’s son. One notable weekend Thalberg ...

Bookmarks

Monday Night Movies are back!  Come join us on February 27 at 6:30 PM as we show our next selection. Starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, Monday night’s movie is based on the real-life story of interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving as they fight for their right to be married during the 1950s and 1960s.  This historical drama will also be shown on Wednesday, March 1 at ...

Suburban Women and the Ladies of Liberty Hall

The regular monthly meeting of the Suburban Woman's Club of South Plainfield was held February 2nd at the American Legion Hall, Oak Tree Road.  Thank you to hostesses Diane Gallo and Orvie Hoffman. All officers reports were delivered followed by updates from Committee Chairs on their various ongoing projects. Discussions included the third annual South Plainfield Spelling Bee which is ...

Press Releases

South Plainfield Middle School Students Accepted into Region Ensembles

February 22, 2017

Plainsboro, NJ-Several South Plainfield Middle School students participated in the Central Jersey Music Educators’ Association Region II Intermediate Band, Orchestra and Chorus Auditions on February 4, 2017 at Community Middle School in Plainsboro, New Jersey.  There were approximately 850 band and orchestra students and 250 chorus students from Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, ...