The Cleveland Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation has jumped head first into the non-profit world of Northeast Ohio. Only the second wish-granting organization in the state, along with Make-A-Wish, A Special Wish Foundation was founded in 1982 in Columbus. Since then, the non-profit organization has granted hundreds of wishes throughout the state, but hadn't in Cleveland. That was until a year ago, when Executive Director Leslie Munsell and Scene's own contributing dining editor Jason Beudert decided to bring a chapter to the 216.
"Even though ASW started in Columbus, this is a Cleveland-run and funded chapter. We are very proud to represent the Cleveland market for A Special Wish," says Munsell.
What makes A Special Wish unique is that, unlike other wish organizations in the country, they grant wishes for children with life-altering diseases from birth up until the age of 20, because "some wishes just can't wait", says Munsell. The charity works closely with the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, University Hospital's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and many other local charities that help sick children.
"We are very active in these families' lives and the community. It is about creating long-lasting memories for these families, supporting them through these times and hopefully celebrating the success of recovery," says Munsell.
The charity also believes in a grass roots campaign of a strict six-day-a-week "wish family visit" schedule.
"This can mean bringing food for tired parents, toys for the kids, and just visiting these families who become our family," explains Munsell.
Wishes range from trips to Disney World to a meet-and-greet with Katy Perry. But Munsell is quick to point out that it isn't always about extravagant wishes.
"Letting the parents go on a much-needed date night or taking a child to his or her favorite movie are little things that we consider "mini wishes" that we do while the family battles through the disease," says Munsell.
A Special Wish Cleveland was also one of the charities recognized as the 2014 Best Children's Charity by Scene. They are also proud to point out that every penny donated goes right to the families in need.
"We have no over head or payroll. We are all volunteers," says Munsell.