In 2006, Jenn Watkins learned that her friend Kelli Lovasz’s daughter, Mariah, wished to go to Walt Disney World® Resort. After a life-changing wish experience for her daughter, Kelli formed Team Mariah and asked Jenn to join the team on the Wish-A-Mile® Bicycle Tour in 2010 to fundraise for Make-A-Wish® Michigan.
“I rode the 300 miles once [and] haven’t gotten back on my bike since that day, but have volunteered for the tour ever since,” Watkins explained.
In just the past two years alone, Jenn has generated excitement and worked to create unique wish experiences for more than 20 Michigan wish kids as a wish-granting volunteer. For Jenn, volunteering with Make-A-Wish Michigan has given her a sense of purpose and the opportunity to build relationships with wish kids and their families.
“Make-A-Wish is more than just granting wishes to me,” Jenn said. “These families become special to me. I stepped in to a shopping spree wish that the original wish granter was unable to attend. The wish child Tyesha got a ballgown for prom. When it was time for her prom, she called and asked me to come down to her house and help her get ready. Nothing can replace the feeling of getting that phone call and seeing her face when she was dressed for prom looking like a princess.”
Jenn, who works at a physician’s office, has served as a volunteer for six years in various capacities from wish granting to serving on the Kids For Wish Kids® council to running the spirit station at the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon.
As a wish-granting volunteer, Jenn enjoys going through the child’s list of personal favorites and finding something unique to get for each kid. Lately, she has been putting together color baskets where she asks for the child’s favorite color and then fills the basket with an assortment of items of that specific color.
“Make-A-Wish does something to my soul that I cannot explain,” Jenn said. “There is no comparison to the feeling you get when you meet a wish child and hear their story and help in the granting of a wish. Meeting these families in what could be considered a dark period in their lives and being able to bring a smile or some joy is immeasurable on any level.”