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You Don’t Have to Wait to Make a Child’s Wish Come True

by Leigh Farmer

The diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness changes the trajectory of a person’s life in an instant. Plans and goals shift. Priorities shift. Life changes. For a child, it’s no different. 

The constant doctors’ visits, hospital stays, and treatments have the tendency to darken the light in a child’s eyes. Dancing, playing sports, or just attending school becomes an opportunity out of reach. A life-threatening illness for a child also means there is a huge strain on family members – financially and emotionally. It can be a dark picture. 

It’s that picture that fuels the fire under Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia wish granters like Anita Crean. “As a wish granter, there is never bad news. If there is bad news, you don’t deliver it. You only deliver the good news and you keep the kid excited and happy.” 

Anita has been a wish granter since 2015 and has witnessed the incredible difference the hope and anticipation granting a wish can make for a child with a critical illness. “It’s so nice to bring a smile to a child and to bring a relief to the parents. You can see a noticeable relief,” says Anita. 

A recent study done on the impact of granting a wish show that 95 percent of doctors witnessed their patients’ overcoming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression after their wish was fulfilled. Most notably, 75 percent of the doctors went as far as to say that a wish could improve a child’s medical outcomes. “It’s not a big-time commitment, and it’s well worth the time you spend,” says Anita. 

Anita has helped facilitate the wishes of many families over the years. But one wish stands out from the rest – Noah’s wish. He didn’t want a fancy trip or expensive toy. He wanted a puppy. Noah, who was in elementary school at the time, was an only child. He longed for a companion, and he knew a puppy would be the right partner. Anita still gushes about the wish. “It was just the best wish ever. That puppy was adorable, but to see that child so excited to get that puppy was very cool.” It was at that moment, in fact, that Anita got the bug. She knew she needed to help as many kids as possible. “I think right now I have seven wish kids that I’m working with. When I first started if you would have told me that I would have said oh no no no give me one!”

Today, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia is facing a critical shortage of volunteer wish granters. In the Richmond area alone, there are about sixty-five children waiting for their wish process to begin. “It’s not a big time commitment,” says Anita. In fact, a wish granter commits about six to seven hours a year, on average, on this volunteer work. 

Right now, the organization is looking for about thirty more wish granters in the Richmond area and they are hoping you might consider volunteering your time. Each wish granter must attend a training before they are assigned a family. There are four trainings scheduled for this year. Two are virtual, one will be held in Richmond, and one will be held in Virginia Beach. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a wish granter you can contact Jenna Peterson, (804) 571-1275 or visit 

As for Anita, between granting wishes, she is encouraging her friends and neighbors to volunteer their time. “It’s the most rewarding volunteer work I’ve ever done,” says Anita. Although she wishes there was not a need to do this type of work, she is grateful for all the volunteers who bring smiles to the faces of sick children all over Virginia. “It’s well worth the time you spend.”

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