ICYMI: Make-A-Wish Central New York encourages donations of airline miles to grant wishes

Wish Kid Gracie and Buddy Valastro from the TLC show “Cake Boss,” show off a cake
they made together as part of Gracie’s wish.

Airline miles help Oneida County Wish Kid travel to wish destination

Most of us have seen or heard of a wish come true – whether it’s a 5-year-old boy rescuing a city as his favorite superhero, a young girl wishing to dance with a prince or a teenager relishing beachside moments in the Caribbean, miles away from the thought of treatment and hospital visits.

But did you know what resources Make-A-Wish uses to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions? In fact, the numbers add up quickly – approximately 70 percent of wishes involve travel. Make-A-Wish Central New York uses frequent flier miles for more than 65 wishes each year.

Wish kid Gracie Snyder of Oneida County is one of Make-A-Wish’s travel kids who wished to fly to New Jersey to meet Buddy Valastro, star of the hit TLC show “Cake Boss.” With more than 100,000 airline miles required to send Gracie on a trip of a lifetime via United Airlines, Make-A-Wish relied heavily on the donation of frequent flier miles to make Gracie’s wish come true.

Individuals who fly Delta, United, American, Southwest and JetBlue airlines can easily donate frequent flier miles. All it takes is a visit to cny.wish.org/ways-to- help/giving/airline-miles. The number of miles an individual can donate can range from a few thousand miles to millions.

Donated miles never expire and are never used for anything other than wish travel.

“Air travel factors into nearly 75 percent of the life-changing wishes our chapter grants,” said Diane Kuppermann, president and CEO for Make-A-Wish Central New York. “By donating air miles, supporters of Make-A-Wish can help wish kids travel to the destinations of their one true wish.”

Some estimates show there are more than 16 trillion frequent flier miles that go unused each year. Nearly 25 percent of travelers let their miles expire or at the last minute use them for magazine subscriptions or a one-time upgrade. In contrast, the impact of a wish can last a lifetime.

In fact, per a 2011 wish impact study (wish.org/wishes/what-is- impact-of- granting-wishes), medical professionals say wish experiences can improve a sick child’s state of mind, make them more willing to comply with treatment requirements and can even improve their physical health.

Former wish kids say their wish experience improved their health and strength, gave them more confidence and the will to pursue more challenging life goals, made them more philanthropic and compassionate and even helped save their lives.

For Gracie, not only was she able to meet her idol and put her skills to the test; she was able to gain an experience that taught her a great deal and will help her as she continues to grow as a baker. Buddy Valastro even invited her back in the future for a job, as he was remarkably impressed with her baking abilities.

Make-A-Wish Central New York accepts the donation of airline miles year-round. Nationally, the 62 chapters of Make-A-Wish need a total of 2.5 billion airline miles each year to grant 10,000 wishes that involve travel.

To learn more about the inspiring wishes Make-A- Wish Central New York grants, visit cny.wish.org. To donate miles, visit cny.wish.org/ways-to- help/giving/airline-miles.

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