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‘Messages of Hope’ spread for Wish kids; 38 S.C. wishes delayed

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 7:55 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Make-A-Wish South Carolina is spreading “Messages of Hope” for kids who can’t go on their dream wish trips right now.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis forced the state chapter to delay 38 wishes so far.

Approximately 15 additional wishes per month will be postponed as the threat continues, said Crystal Alifanow, the non-profit's Director of Communications for South Carolina.

Make-A-Wish S.C. granted a record 209 wishes last year for South Carolina kids and more than 70% of local wishes involve travel.

"It's something that has changed our lives," said Wish Mom Laura Carroll. "To some folks it may just be a trip. But for wish kids and their families, it's not just a trip. It's a game changer and a trip of a lifetime."

The Carroll family will never forget their 2017 wish trip to Los Angeles and Hollywood to meet the cast of a Nickelodeon TV-show their son Cole loves.

Typing into computer, Cole exclaimed, “Game Shakers!” to Live 5′s Carter Coyle, who is a local volunteer leader.

Cole's Dad, Doug Carroll said, "Yes, it was a show named Game Shakers, and the main star in that show was a guy named Kel Mitchell, a lot of people know Kel Mitchell."

Cole, known as King Cole, had a magical trip despite the challenges of being in a wheelchair and having a critical illness.

Sometimes it takes a year or more to plan the details of a wish and work with a child's doctor to make sure they are healthy enough to travel.

Coronavirus has brought those efforts to a halt.

"Make a Wish and our mission has been devastated by our inability in particular not to grant travel-related wishes. We've had an impact already of 38 wishes postponed," explained Karen Lucht, a Make-A-Wish S.C. Regional Development Officer who lives in Charleston.

"Some of those children are what we consider rush wishes, where their prognosis might allow them a super long time to wait for that wish to come true," Lucht added.

Right now wish managers are working to create at-home wishes when possible.

"The team has gotten creative! We're taking shopping sprees online. For each item being ordered to be delivered directly to the wish kid, the staff writes creative, special messages on the gift receipts inside," said Alifanow.

She said kids who are facing delayed wishes are also given the opportunity to change their wish if they want. As soon as restrictions are lifted, Lucht says the team will be re-booking travel wishes.

"It's emotional," Lucht said. "And it's challenging for us. But at the same time, the children are our heart, the core of our mission. We know even though their wishes are waiting, their wishes are still happening."

Cole's Mom Laura said it's heartbreaking. "To imagine a kid has come to the point of waiting for their wish and maybe knew it was a couple weeks out. But because of this virus taking hold of the whole world, their hopes are put on hold."

That's where we can all help.

Videos from around the country are hitting social media called "Messages of Hope."

Ryan Reynolds and other celebrities have posted messages for wish kids to remind them "it's worth the wait" and "hang in there!"

King Cole posted his own message, saying, "To my fellow wish kids, you haven't had your wish yet, but you will. And when you do, it will be the best day ever!"

He added, "Stay strong and keep fighting. Hope, Dream, Wish."

Cole is challenging us all to share a Message of Hope by posting your message to any social media channel along with the tag @MakeAWishSC, and the hashtag #WishesAreWaiting. Ask your friends and family to join in.

MAW S.C. President and CEO Misty Farmer said in a statement to supporters, "We WILL come out of this stronger and more determined than ever before to deliver the amazing wish experiences that our wish kids need and deserve. We WILL need your help, and we know our family of supporters will rise to this challenge with us. TOGETHER, we will get through this."

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