What was it like to meet with Annabelle?
Annabelle has a totally infectious smile. It was clear that she loved life and her illness was an afterthought for her. She was excited to make her wish and had absolutely no hesitation when she wished for a cruise.
Can you tell us about each stop during the scavenger hunt?
Our first stop was at the Make-A-Wish office in Downtown Pittsburgh. Annabelle got a tour of the building, said hello to the staff and picked something out from the Make-A-Wish toy closet. From our offices, Annabelle's family, preschool teacher, Eldridge Communications and Make-A-Wish staff, boarded the Culture of Good bus and headed to the next stop.
The second stop was at the Eldridge Communications store in Cranberry, PA, where Annabelle was presented with beach-themed gifts, including towels and flip flops with her favorite Disney Princess: Ariel. The Eldridge staff was dressed in beach gear including swim trunks and Hawaiian leis. Annabelle had an impromptu volleyball game with the beach balls that were scattered around the store.
The final stop was at the Eldridge Communications store in Wexford, PA, where Annabelle was surprised with the dates of her cruise. Her cruise date was printed on a banner and the banner was packed in a giant box that was wrapped in Disney paper. When she unwrapped the box her banner floated out of the box to reveal her dates. Later in the day, everyone enjoyed lunch catered by Olive Garden, Annabelle's favorite restaurant.
Was this your first wish reveal?
This was my first wish reveal of this magnitude – and by far the most successful. Everything about the day was a huge celebration in honor of Annabelle. We started with a tour of the Make-A-Wish offices – she grasped early on in the day that she was the star of the show and totally owned it. She would walk into a room of people cheering for her and wave and smile like a princess.
What was your favorite part of Annabelle’s wish reveal?
My favorite part of the day was when we were taking photographs after the wish reveal. Mom and Annabelle were doing an interview and Annabelle was asked how she was feeling. She replied, “HAPPY!” And that was it, that’s all that really mattered to me.
Another favorite moment? I promised Annabelle a scavenger hut, and throughout the day she was given clues about what her wish would be – beach towels, flip flops, Disney gear, etc. – but I think she was expecting a more formal treasure hunt, with riddles and a map. So at the end of the day, when we’re taking the group shot, with all of the Make-A-Wish staff, all of the Eldridge Communications staff, and Annabelle’s family (in total 40+ people), and after we had made three stops and traveled via tour bus, Annabelle said, “When’s the scavenger hunt?” I lost it, I thought it was so funny! So, I told her next time I’d work harder on the scavenger hunt.
Can you tell us a little about Eldridge Communications, TCC Verizon and Culture of Good?
The team at Eldridge was absolutely fantastic to work with: Tony, Abi, Justin, Chris, Aaron—the list goes on. Their enthusiasm was off the charts, and they wanted to do everything in their power to make Annabelle’s wish reveal top notch. They bounced ideas off of the Make-A-Wish staff about the reveal and made sure to make every aspect of the day totally focused on Annabelle and her family. Her favorite restaurant catered the luncheon, her favorite movie was playing on the tour bus, she got a beach towel with her favorite princess on it – no detail was spared. They are such excellent partners who profoundly care about the mission of Make-A-Wish, and we couldn’t be happier to have their support.
The Culture of Good is TCC Verizon’s corporate philosophy, that has morphed into a national movement. Founded by Ryan McCarty – who played a big role in planning Annabelle’s wish reveal – Culture of Good is the concept that having a good company is about more than having a profitable business. Employee engagement and retention, corporate social responsibility and office environment/culture are not independent concepts, but instead should be prioritized and harnessed to create a “culture of good.” We saw the philosophy first-hand with the Eldridge team, and I have to say, I’m a believer.
Can other local companies contribute to Make-A-Wish like this?
But of course! Our corporate partners are critical to making wishes like Annabelle’s come true, and every donation counts—big or small. We call our corporate partners and groups of employees who come together to fundraise for Make-A-Wish Wishmakers® at Work
. A Wishmakers at Work program can look very different for different organizations. It can be as simple as paying a dollar to wear jeans to the office one day, or a large-scale event like a golf outing or wine tasting. There is no shortage of ways to get involved and help grant wishes.
Why do you think local businesses should contribute to Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia?
I believe that once you’ve seen the impact of a wish first-hand, you feel the value of the Make-A-Wish mission and want to support it. Wishes are more than just a nice thing – they give our kids renewed strength to fight their illness. Anticipating a wish can make a kiddo more compliant with his/her medical treatments, and they give much-needed hope and happiness to children who face a unique kind of adversity so young in life.
For businesses especially, it’s so easy to get involved. Morale is boosted, teams are working together to achieve a common goal, and people at the highest levels of businesses are connecting and working directly with people in more entry level positions. Customers recognize that businesses are invested in giving back to the community and are more likely to do business with your company – not to use a business buzzword, but it’s truly a win-win.
Would your place of work like to help make wishes come true like Annabelle's, find out more on how to become a Wishmaker® at Work!
*Photo Credit: Culture of Good