I’m a sports columnist, and this morning’s inspiring story about 13-year-old Jackson Kelly and his efforts to help other sick kids through the Make-A-Wish program started out as a sports story. A kid gets to meet LeBron James, and it inspires him to help others, himself.
But of course, you quickly start to run across other kids who are just as worthy of front-page treatment. In fact, just about every kid you run across is worthy of it, in their own way.
In particular, I was told about a young man in Louisville named Will Leonberger, who had his wish granted for a trip to Disney World, then came home and actually raised enough money for another Make-A-Wish child to have his wish granted, an extraordinary feat of energy and heart. Drew Jackson is another kid who, like Jackson Kelly, has gotten involved in his own way, writing letters, talking at events, raising money.
Travis Bailey, who was honored at the organization’s Food, Wine and Wishes fundraiser a couple of nights ago, was born with Spina bifida, hydrocephalus and paralysis of the vocal chords. They told his parents he’d never talk. They were wrong. He talks. And he’s always smiling.
This is a tough time for charities. And you might think, there are charities that provide food and shelter for the homeless, and a lot of charities that benefit medical research and procedures from some of the very conditions a lot of these kids have.
And they’re all worthy. But local Make-A-Wish development associate Tansy Mullins provided perhaps the best statement I’ve heard when it comes to the value of her own organization and the service it provides.
“A lot of charities are struggling,” she said. “A lot of homeless shelters and things serve a more immediate need. Our thing is that hope is just as strong a need as shelter and clothing and food. Children need that hope to keep going.”
So consider this a final plea to think about getting involved. Visit makeawishky.org for more information.