In 1980, Christopher James Greicius, a young boy with leukemia, wanted to be a police officer. His Phoenix, Arizona community came together and made his wish come true. Christopher spent the day as a police officer, rode in a police helicopter, and even received a custom-tailored police uniform. Christopher’s wish was the inspiration for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They have gone on to help grant over 350,000 wishes for children with critical medical conditions.
Make-A-Wish opened its South Dakota chapter in 1984, and merged with the Montana chapter in 2020. Since then, they’ve helped grant over 2,300 wishes for children in South Dakota.
“Every wish begins with a referral from a caring individual,” said Sue Salter, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana. “A common misconception is that a child’s illness has to be terminal in order to receive a wish. A majority of children overcome their disease.”
Last year, Make-A-Wish granted 81 wishes for children in the area, as well as 13 wish assists.
“Wish assists are when children from other chapters want to visit South Dakota or Montana,” Sue said. “Many wishes involve visits to the Black Hills or Glacier National Park.”
Wishes generally fall into one of five categories – I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, I wish to have, and I wish to experience.
“Every wish is unique, just like the child that makes it,” Sue said. “I remember a couple years ago, a child wanted to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit in De Smet.”
Wishes are possible because of donations from businesses, individuals, as well as the many fundraisers that are held each year. There are many events across South Dakota, including Watertown’s silent auction and dinner and Sioux Falls’ summer golf tournament. Aberdeen holds a New Year’s Eve dance every year.
“We all work together to raise funds for children,” Sue said. “The money that is raised in our chapter helps out the children in our area.”
Each wish has a tremendous impact on each child. Many alumni stated that their wish experience contributed to their physical, mental, and emotional health. For many, the wish ended up being a necessary part of their medical treatment journey. Wishes have increased hope, strength, joy, confidence, self-esteem, quality of life, and well-being of children, and they often serve as a successful coping mechanism.
Most important of all, however, is how Make-A-Wish is able to bring families closer together and strengthen relationships with loved ones. The quality time that a wish brings to a family is something that is irreplaceable and priceless. //
Make-A-Wish New Year’s Eve Dance
The Make-A-Wish New Year’s Eve Dance has been held in Aberdeen for over 10 years, and it’s one of the biggest fundraisers for the South Dakota chapter. The event features live music from local and regional artists, as well as a silent auction, a live auction, and plenty of food and drink. This year, the event will start at 7:00 PM at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel. There will be a raffle to win a custom shed from Builders FirstSource. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at Builders FistSource, The Posh Pheasant, and from Make-A-Wish volunteers.
“We’ve been doing this for many years,” said Gloria Dahme. “We try our best to make sure it’s a great time for everyone.”
All of the proceeds raised at the dance will be used to grant wishes for children in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.< “This event has a great volunteer group,” Sue said. “Abereen has done a lot to help wishes come true.” For more information, call Gloria at 605-228-1416.