Make-A-Wish contacted us a while ago and asked if we'd like to be Wish Ambassadors. I'm sure they've discovered over the years that people dig deeper and donate more at a fundraiser if they have a face to connect to the cause. I spoke to Babygirl about it and she gave a highly qualified 'yes'. She doesn't want to speak. She's not fond of having people staring at her, but she'll stand by me while I tell the story.
A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to represent Make-A-Wish at a fashion show fundraiser at Cornell University. It's not impossibly far away, it's Citygirl's alma mater, and we have nothing else on the schedule. Why not?
I bribed Babygirl with permission to wear her new Christmas Eve outfit for the occasion and we were good to go. Despite ominous weather predictions, the roads were clear, the Christmas music on the radio relaxing, and the speech taking shape inside my head coming along beautifully. I'd been to Cornell events before - Citygirl organized a few and Hubby and I went. Hers were centered around meals and wine and were fairly pricey to attend. We were surrounded there by well-to-do Cornell parents and local foodies, so I planned to tug at some parental heartstrings.
Then I saw our audience.
It turns out that FASHION is an acronym for a group of fashion students raising money for charity. It is the brainchild of ONE student, and this was its first annual event. Zak is an admirable young man who apparently began organizing these fundraisers while in high school, and who intends to keep on going matching fashion with charity for the rest of his life. He got local sponsors (Ann Taylor, Urban Outfitters, Old Navy) to contribute clothing to be modeled. He rounded up fellow students to be the models and to help with the tech aspects of the show. He recruited two dance groups to use between lineups to add interest. He auctioned off a date with two of the models for an extra $90.
The audience of about 200 people were all students - Zak's friends, the models' friends, and random Cornell students who were looking for a different way to spend an evening.
Not a parental heartstring to be seen.
I listened to them talking at the fundraising table. I listened to Zak passionately discussing the wishes of "terminal" children. What these young people needed was vision, imagination.
With Babygirl by my side I told our story, briefly. I explained that "kidney transplant" and "they all lived happily ever after" are not at all the same thing. I explained the difference between "life-threatening" illness and "terminal" illness. I told them about Babygirl's wish process, and the hope it gave us in our darkest hours.
And then I told them about the wishes.
Learning to scuba dive to go swimming with sharks. Becoming a princess and dancing with a real prince. Having a dream wedding. All-terrain wheelchairs. Paris, sweet Paris. And they'd ALL heard about the BatKid.
I told them I knew all about being broke - we had a major illness and a Cornell graduation all at the same time, after all - and appealed to them to not only drop money in the jar but to talk to their parents about donating frequent flyer miles as well as money. I think I did okay. Babygirl says I did.
It amazes me, always, what one passionate person can achieve. I'll say it again: I look at today's young people and I see hope.