Performers dedicated their talents and time to help make the children of Make-A-Wish foundation smile at the 4th annual Riverside Walk for Wishes event in Fairmont Park, raising $35,000.
Many entertainers have granted wishes of children who have wanted to meet their heroes. Dance crews have brought on new members and Jedi Knights joined the light side of the Force in the “Star Wars” world, fulfilling the dreams of many people.
Saber Guild is one of the many groups that helped make wishes come true. They are a choreographed lightsaber battle, costuming and performance organization recognized by Lucasfilm.
Vince Glasser, freelance editor and member of the guild, said all money raised goes to multiple charities, but primarily to Make-A-Wish.
Glasser helped make the wish of a young “Star Wars” fan come true after the child wished to become a Jedi. The Empire invaded the room asking for the child and the Jedi protected him. After the performance and defeat of Darth Vader and the Sith, the child was made a full-fledged Jedi Knight, Glasser said.
“The heart behind this is to enjoy the universe that you love and helping to bring that happiness to others,” Glasser said.
Children’s wishes are divided into four categories: “I wish to be,” “I wish to go,” “I wish to have” and “I wish to meet.” A wish is granted every 37 minutes in the United States, according to the Make-A-Wish website.
“My most favorite memory — there isn’t one,” said Stephanie McCormick, CEO of Make- A-Wish Foundation. “Every time I see a smile of a Wish Kid, that is always my favorite and I’ve seen hundreds of those in the past five years. That’s what it’s all about.”
Lauren Butler, 16-year-old Wish Kid and speaker at the walk, was diagnosed with Leukemia in January 2015. Make- A-Wish helped Butler and her family go to Maui, Hawaii.
“They were so genuinely excited to help me do something that pulled me out of my slump,” Butler said. “(My diagnosis) was really depressing and brought my personality down a lot. Being able to go to Maui and being outdoors made me realize my life wasn’t over, it was only beginning. It was a huge step to me.”
Diana Lopez, junior business administration major, became involved with Make-A-Wish in high school when she was part of the American Cancer Society and is now an intern for the foundation. She said the granting of wishes will inspire children to keep fighting.
“I love the fact that artists, dancers (and) actors alike all use their God-given skills and talents to help a child during a tough time,” Lopez said.
If money is donated to Make-A-Wish before May 5 through the Force For Change fundraising page with Saber Guild, Disney will match all donations.
“Our reason for being is to share what ‘Star Wars’ means to us with the community,” Saber Guild said on their website. “Every time a child smiles, we feel like real Jedi.”