The Make-A-Wish Foundation at UC Irvine hosted the “I Wish…” Fashion and Performance Showcase and Benefit this past Wednesday, Feb. 11 to raise awareness about the terminal illnesses that children face.
According to UCI’s Make-A-Wish Foundation President Jean Hsu, the group’s primary purpose was to help raise money for the organziation’s Orange County and Inland Empire (OCIE) chapter. Although they made a considerable sum from food sales, they did not meet the goal they had set of $6,000.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation works to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. A wish can fall into four categories: go somewhere, meet someone, do something or have something.
On average, the price of one child’s wish is $6,300. The child’s family does not have to pay for any of the wish expenses. The foundation covers expenses including all travel and spending money.
“Wish-granting is something truly magical. The foundation’s objective is to provide the child and family with special memories that are not clouded with worries of expenses,” explained Wish granter and volunteer Mathew Ferrero.
This objective is what inspired Thang Tran, founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation at UCI, to form a club on campus that supports the OCIE chapter by fundraising money and increasing awareness.
“A couple of friends and I thought that the objective of the foundation was worthwhile. Therefore, we wanted to bring together others who shared the same mission so that we could have a lasting impact on the community and foundation itself,” Tran said.
According to Tran, who founded the club in 2007, it was not difficult to establish the group at UCI because of the help that the OCIE chapter provided. Although fundraising is the club’s main priority, they are also trying to garner support and gather more volunteers within the UCI community.
“[The fashion show] serves as a great benefit event,” Tran said. “People are always interested in fashion and with that, we can promote [the] Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
The showcase opened with an introduction by Ferrero, child life specialist Vince Daniels, Wish parents Mary and Craig Repp and Wish ambassador Courtney Smith.
As the guest speakers elaborated on the foundation’s purpose, goals and success stories, students were given the opportunity to hear a firsthand account of a wish granted for 12-year-old Courtney Smith.
“With the help of [the] Make-A-Wish Foundation, my wish to go on a Disney cruise came true. It was such an amazing experience and it made me want to give back some of the joy, happiness and excitement that I received,” Smith said.
After the guest speakers shared their own accounts of how the foundation impacted their lives, the fashion and performance showcase began. With two fashion segments, volunteer UCI students modeled casual and urban wear provided by various apparel stores in Orange County.
The show included dance and song performances by BBoys Anonymous, Chinese Association Dance Crew, Modern Completely Insane Anteaters, Circle of Fifths and LeVeL5.
Alternating between performances and catwalks, the Make-A-Wish Foundation at UCI’s members did not hesitate in offering various opportunities for attendees to help out.
“We understand that college students don’t have a lot of money to contribute financially. But you do have the enthusiasm and energy that is a key element for volunteers. We need that,” Daniels said.