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35 years of wishes

This year, Make-A-Wish® Michigan celebrates its 35th Anniversary – a special celebration of wish granting in Michigan and an opportunity to honor donors, volunteers and other supporters who have helped transform lives, one wish at a time.

During 2019, we will share inspiring stories of our wish kids from throughout the decades, including a celebration of our 10,000th wish this spring, and profile the incredible efforts of volunteers, donors, corporate friends, medical professionals and supporters who have helped to transform the lives of Michigan wish kids. As we look toward the future, it is only through continued community support that we will be able to reach more Michigan children and grant wishes that transform the lives of our wish kids and families.

Our 35th Anniversary will be celebrated throughout 2019 with our signature events, including Wish Ball, Walk For Wishes®, and the Wish-A-Mile® Bicycle Tour - as well as other special events and activities that will highlight wish kids and honor those whose deep commitment to our mission has been key to our ability to create life-changing moments for so many Michigan families.

First wish granted in 1984

In late January 1984, an 11-year-old boy boarded a plane to Florida, eager to stand on the drawbridge of the Dream Castle at Walt Disney World® Resort. Joshua, who had a brain tumor, was the first child to be granted a wish by Make-A-Wish® Michigan.

Two years prior, Joshua’s family had moved to Michigan, and he became ill a short time later. At first, his family thought it was the flu, until he lost his balance one morning walking down the steps.

“I couldn’t take two steps in a row, so I had to go to the hospital for tests,” Joshua told a local newspaper in 1982.

It was then the doctors discovered a malignant brain tumor. He underwent three surgical operations, chemotherapy and radiation treatment for the brain tumor and two spine tumors.

Joshua’s mom had heard of Make-A-Wish through her family in Nevada, and contacted the month-old local chapter, Make-A-Wish® Michigan, which was headquartered in Traverse City. 

Joshua’s wish to visit Walt Disney World was planned for February, but as time passed it became harder for Joshua to walk. Within a 24-hour timeframe, the trip was rescheduled for late January.

Despite the health issues, Joshua was eager to leave.

“Mentally, he’s been in heaven. He’s been sitting on his suitcase and staring at the clock, waiting to go,” Joshua’s father told a local newspaper.

The airline tickets were anonymously donated for the family to take flight. In addition to covering the trip’s expenses, Make-A-Wish Michigan paid for Joshua’s father’s lost wages. Joshua’s mom, Carol, said the organization was a miracle worker.

“Everyone has helped, friends, neighbors,” Carol told a local newspaper. “Just really, to say thank you… it’s not really enough.”

Make-A-Wish Michigan first wish

35th Logo

35th Logo

Make-A-Wish® Michigan
7600 Grand River Avenue
Suite 175
Brighton, MI 48114
(734) 994-8620
Toll Free Michigan Only (800) 622-9474
Make-A-Wish® Michigan, Grand Rapids Office
648 Monroe Ave NW
Suite 104
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 363-4607
Toll Free (877) 631-9474