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Wishing Well Blog

A New Chapter of Life Unfolds for Graduating Wish Kids

Graduating wish kids with Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly. Make-A-Wish President and CEO Judi Stone, Chief Operating Officer Ann Hohn and Development Coordinator Andrea Ballas at the Kurt R. Weiss Reception at PNC Park
While reading the goals, dreams and stories of the 50 graduating wish kids who recently applied for our chapter's Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship, I couldn't help thinking of a quote from American author William Arthur Ward -- “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” The diagnosis of cancer or a life-threatening illness could be a reason for anyone to give up. However, these wish kids scholarship recipients wouldn't let their diagnoses define them. For many, their wish experience gave them a “can-do” attitude, and inspired many of them to take up challenges they hadn't thought possible. In the coming weeks, these kids will be graduating from Pennsylvania and West Virginia high schools, ready to start a new chapter in their life and conquer a new challenge -- college.

Sean wins the Mylan Best Essay Award at the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship ReceptionSean, a graduating high school senior diagnosed with kidney disease, won the best essay award at the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship Reception earlier this month.  His wish to Hawaii helped him realize he could do anything if he believes in himself.

"One of the highlights of my recovery was being granted a wish. My wish helped my family bond and I proved to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. On the trip, I climbed Diamond Head and did not need to be carried down."

Although the amputation of his hands and legs has changed his path in life, it has not stopped his motivation. Instead, he wants to  devote his life to paying it forward and helping others.

"Because I could no longer excel on the sports field, I channeled my energies into my studies. I am planning to attend Penn State not to play football, but to study bioengineering. I want to give back to the community that aided me when I was sick. I want to develop prosthetic devices that are lighter, more durable and less costly so all amputees can regain their mobility. This scholarship will enable me to reach that goal."

Angela with President and CEO Judi StoneAngela, who was granted her wish to be a model in 2011, said she saw the cruelty of the world for the first time when she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.    The spring after her diagnosis, she discovered the art of photography and it quickly became her passion. As she gets ready to attend Cedarville University in the fall, she knows she wants to make a difference in the lives of other people. She writes, "Because of my EDS, I cannot be a police officer and put criminals behind bars. I cannot be a firefighter and save houses from burning down. I cannot be an EMT and save people’s lives. Because of EDS, there are many things I cannot do, but I can be an artist. With an art education, I will be able to further my talents and become a better artist. I want to make a difference in someone’s life by inspiring them through my art. I want to show someone who is struggling that despite the pain and struggle we have to face, there is still beauty and hope in our world."

Like Kurt R. Weiss, who conquered his battle with bone cancer and went on to become an orthopaedic surgeon to help others battling cancer,  Angela, Sean and all of our graduating wish kids, who were honored at a reception at PNC Park for their achievements, are determined to reach their goals.  We wish all of our wish kids the best of luck in all their future endeavors as they graduate from high school. Congratulations!

  • Angela's senior photo

  • Angela poses for the camera

  • Sean reads his essay at the podium at PNC Park

  • Sean's senior photo

  • Sean and his family kayaking in Hawaii

  • Sean and his brother at the Hawaii airport

About this Blog

This blog brings Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia to you -- sharing first-person stories of the Make-A-Wish experience and the impact of a wish from the perspectives of wish families, volunteers and staff. This blog highlights wishes come true and the special people in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that help create life-changing experiences for every eligible child.

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