Make-A-Wish Foundation looks to cover cost of air fees

By Danny Ciamprone

DeKALB | The Illinois chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants about 765 wishes a year.

Of those, 70 percent are travel related, said communications manager Jessica Miller. This year the Make-A-Wish Foundation is encouraging Illinois residents to donate airline miles to help cover the cost of these trips.

“Most of the trips the kids want to take are Disney related,” Miller said. “We also use the miles though for international travel like to Australia, or to see the World Cup.”

Charlie Fahrenwald, a 10-year-old from Warrenville with a life-threatening kidney condition, wanted to see a volcano in real life. The foundation organized a trip to Hawaii for him, allowing to take helicopter rides to see the lava flows.

Another 10-year-old, Alejandro Samano, was diagnosed a year ago with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, according to the Make-A-Wish Foundation website. His family contacted the foundation and asked to go to Cancun, where he swam with the dolphins and toured Mayan ruins.

Cindy Kyler has been a wish granter in DeKalb County for two-and-a-half years.

“Knowing everything these kids go through, all they know is doctors and pains,” Kyler said. “Seeing their faces when you tell them they can do anything they want to do they light up. The pictures they show from the trips just show them so happy and worry free.”

Kyler said a lot of families are unable to take these trips without the foundation’s help because of the excessive medical bills. With help, it is not just a terrific experience for the child, but the entire family as well to share these joyous memories.

Kyler also said many airlines will accept expired miles people forget to use.

Make-A-Wish has chapters all across the country and internationally. All costs of the trips are paid for entirely by the foundation and are greatly assisted with air mile donations.

“The only worry these kids have on their trips is just how much fun they’re going to have,” Miller said.