It's My Job: Making wishes come trueProgram services director helps create memories
FARGO - When Kayla Foltz was young, one of her neighbors went to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish foundation. Seeing the fruits of the organization’s labor evidently made an impact on Foltz.
FARGO - When Kayla Foltz was young, one of her neighbors went to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Seeing the fruits of the organization’s labor evidently made an impact on Foltz. Now, she’s the director of program services for the nonprofit’s North Dakota chapter, coordinating efforts to give children with life-threatening illnesses and their families special experiences.
The Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate has been with the foundation for three years and in her current role for the past year and a half. She does a little bit of everything in the wish-granting process, from behind-the-scenes planning to corresponding with physicians to booking hotels.
On average, the North Dakota chapter grants 30 to 35 wishes per year. Right now, Foltz is working on granting the chapter’s 600th wish for a boy who wants to catch a crab on the beach and eat it.
“He loves crab. He loves Red Lobster,” she said. To fulfill the wish, he’ll travel to the beaches of Virginia.
One popular misconception about the organization is that it only works with terminally ill children. That’s not the case – the illness just has to be life-threatening. In the best scenarios, she said, the wish can be a meaningful part of the recovery process.
The Forum sat down with Foltz last week to talk about the process of making wishes come true.
How does the wish process work?
Volunteers go in and meet with the family. From there, we meet with a doctor and make sure a wish is appropriate. The volunteers are a huge part of the wish process. Say it’s a room makeover wish – the volunteers will do the planning and a lot of the shopping. If it’s a travel wish, I’ll work with the other Make-A-Wish chapter in that territory.
Are there common or popular wishes?
Most wishes fall into four categories: I wish to be; I wish to have; I wish to go; I wish to meet. We really try and encourage the child to come up with their own ideas.
Disney World is definitely a very, very common wish. I’d say another one that’s becoming more common is a cruise or a Hawaiian wish. I would say about 80 percent of our wishes are travel.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
What’s challenging is when there’s something that a child wants and we can’t grant this wish. Some examples are celebrities – sometimes it’s not good timing for a celebrity. Sometimes we’ve had wishes for like a little private apartment in their backyard, and we can’t add taxable square footage to their property.
If we can’t do it, the volunteers will ask for two wishes and work with them to find one we can do.
What do you find most rewarding?
Definitely the most rewarding part is talking to the family after the wish and hearing the memories and seeing the pictures and all the smiles that were created. I would say that’s definitely the most rewarding is hearing from the family after the wish.
I’m very fortunate because I truly love my job. I work with wonderful wish families, volunteers and co-workers.
If people want to help, what can they do?
The biggest thing is volunteer if they want to. Check out or website or our Facebook page. A lot of the specific needs that we have, we post on Facebook. We also collect items for auction. We grant wishes, that’s our mission, but we also have to raise the money to grant wishes.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502
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