Many are familiar with the mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation––to grant critically ill children their biggest wish, be it a snow day, Disney cruise, or new puppy, in hopes of revitalizing their ability to fight their disease. What some people might be less familiar with, however, is Chi Omega’s intimate and lasting involvement with Make-A-Wish. In a partnership of almost 20 years, Chi Omega nationally has raised over 26 million dollars for the Foundation. Local Chi Omega chapters and alumni play a huge role in granting wishes, and here at UF we are proud to say that last year––despite a global pandemic––we fundraised more for Make-A-Wish than ever before, rounding out our grand total at just over $36,000.
As Chi Omegas at the University of Florida, our partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation is not something we take lightly. Especially in this historic era, when financial and emotional turmoil has been heightened for many, we as Chi Omegas strove to do everything in our power to ensure that sick children and their families still had a source of hope and joy––two things Make-A-Wish never fails to deliver. Each year, it is the central goal of Chi O’s Make-A-Wish executive board to keep the cause at the forefront of each of our actions. Some ways we have implemented this goal in the past have been inviting former wish kids to come to our home and events, sharing individual wish kid’s stories at fundraisers during family weekends, and rebranding our main event, Sandblast, to include tangible representations of Make-A-Wish. This past year, our Make-A-Wish team was more creative and proactive than ever, implementing virtual fundraisers while maintaining the interpersonal connection to wish kids that we so value. Even when it was no longer safe to welcome wish families into our home, we took extra measures to make them feel seen and celebrated, such as setting up goodies and décor for a family-only wish reveal party in an out-of-town wish family’s Gainesville hotel room.
Each Panhellenic chapter here at UF works so hard to make the world a better place through their philanthropic efforts. Where Chi Omega is unique, however, is in the genuine friendships we have with those directly affected. Because the reach of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is so widespread, many of our sisters know wish kids personally, or are a wish family themselves. Indeed, when we host our weeklong fundraiser (“Wish Week”) in Turlington Plaza, we never fail to meet former wish kids who approach us, share their stories, and thank us for caring about kids like them. These very intimate connections ensure that Chi Omega’s philanthropic efforts for the Make-A-Wish Foundation are always of the highest quality, for we know that wish kids and their families deserve nothing but the brightest ray of hope -- a wish granted.