Angela Tinkey, Somerset, calls the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia an amazing program.
“The things they do for people is amazing,” she said. “I encourage others to volunteer to help kids. They are wonderful people.”
Her daughter, Maria, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma when she was 9. Ewing’s sarcoma is a primary bone cancer that affects mainly children and adolescents. Maria wanted an above-ground swimming pool. She is now 11 and has been cancer-free for a year.
“Maria loves to swim,” her mother said. “It’s her favorite thing to do. No matter where we went, Maria wanted to swim. She loves it.”
Make-A-Wish needs volunteers, especially people in Somerset County. Spokeswoman Dana Antkowiak said the organization particularly needs wish-granting volunteers. They meet with the families and kids to determine what their wishes are.
“We have had quite an influx of Somerset County kids,” she said. “Since our fiscal year started on Sept. 1, we’ve had nine children in Somerset County referred and qualified for wishes. We only had four the whole year before.”
She said she thinks the increase in numbers is because of an increased outreach to let people know that wishes can be granted.
“I hate to see a need,” Antkowiak said. “We want to reach kids and grant everyone a wish. The volunteers are the first to meet the kids and hear their dreams directly. It is a personal touch. They bring joy into lives of children. It will be good to have new volunteers trained and ready to go.”
Six volunteers are active in Somerset County. Make-A-Wish would like there to be 12 to 14. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, pass a criminal background check, complete an orientation and attend a training session. Volunteers can also help at special events, such as golf tournaments and walks, and assist with fundraising programs. Attendance at one four-hour training session is mandatory for all interested individuals. To register for the upcoming training in April, contact Make-A-Wish at 800-676-9474.