The charity’s Orange County and Inland Empire chapter held an inaugural gala in Newport
For thirty years, the Orange County and Inland Empire chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation has been helping children and teenagers suffering from serious illnesses realize their hopes, dreams and fantasies. Last month, the group celebrated its many accomplishments by hosting the “Evening of Wishes” Gala at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach and raising nearly $150,000.
Two hundred people attended the gala, which included live and silent auctions, dinner and dancing, and even the surprise fulfillment of a little girl’s wish. Guests were also addressed one of the organization’s founding members, Frank Shankwitz.
In his speech, Mr. Shankwitz relayed the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s history, including the story of the first official wish that it granted as a foundation. That wish included sending a child to Disneyland, and since then, the organization has maintained a close relationship with Disney and Orange County.
Following Mr. Shankwitz speech, there was an unexpected change in the program. A Master of Revels, dressed in Renaissance garb, informed the audience that they were about to witness the coronation of a new princess. A throne was unveiled, and a 3-year old girl named Avery entered the ballroom. Holding her mother’s hand, Avery, a cancer patient from Loma Linda, walked to the throne where her father was waiting for her. He sat on the throne with Avery on his lap, and she was officially crowned a princess.
Speaking of the decision to grant Avery’s wish at the gala, Stephanie McCormick, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and Inland Empire, highlighted the inspirational quality that is intrinsic to the work that the organization does.
“Many people do not get to experience a wish and what it can do,” she said. “We wanted to honor young Avery and share with our guests the true power of a wish.”
Since granting its first official wish in 1981, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has gone on to grant more than 200,000 wishes in the United States. Along with the Orange County and Inland Empire chapter, 61 other regional chapters across the country continue to grant wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions and to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.