Potter grants wishes with internship

by Becca Smith for The Talon

As an intern for the Make-A-Wish foundation this past summer, senior Megan Potter helped make 41 wishes come true for children across Oklahoma. In the 2008 fiscal year, the Oklahoma chapter of Make-A-Wish granted about 113 wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

The Oklahoma chapter founded in 1987 has two offices, one in Tulsa and one in Oklahoma City. The chapter has granted more than 1,600 wishes to eligible Oklahoma children.

Corporate sponsors, foundations, service clubs, fundraisers and individual contributions make up the majority of funding for granting children’s wishes. Make-A-Wish does not receive any government funding.  Approximately 82 percent of every wish dollar donated to the Oklahoma chapter is directly applied to the funding of granting a wish.

Each eligible child has the opportunity to make a wish from four categories. A child can wish to go anywhere, like Disneyland. A child can also ask to meet anyone, have something or be something.

“The very first boy that had a wish granted was named Chris Greicius and he wanted to be a police officer,” Potter said. “Little did he know he would be the inspiration to the largest wish granting organization in the world.”

Each wish costs an average of $7,000 and can take up to a year to be granted, depending on what is requested. The cost of the wish is high because the Make-A-Wish foundation goes beyond just the wish the child puts on paper.

“They never cut corners and they go above what the child asks for and beyond what the child can imagine,” Potter said.  “Everything is done to its absolute best.”

Potter began college with the desire to be a child life specialist

“A child life specialist is a person who works in a hospital and is the mediator between the doctors and the families of a child that is terminally ill,” Potter said.

Oklahoma Christian does not offer a degree of this nature so Potter pursued a liberal arts degree. Potter anticipates graduating in December with a degree in liberal arts focusing on family studies, communication and early childhood education.

This past year, Potter looked for a summer internship as a child life specialist with OU Children’s Hospital. The internship program at OU Children’s Hospital was being re-worked and not available. With a graduation approaching Potter looked for other internships.

Potter’s sister-in-law Amanda Potter told her about the internships available at Make-A-Wish.

“She thought of me instantly because she knew I wanted to work with children with life threatening illnesses,” Potter said. “So I looked into it and found that it was a perfect fit. I was going to get to see if my heart was truly as ready as I thought to work with these types of children and families and be able to make a true difference in their lives while I am at it.”

Potter worked with five other interns this summer at the Oklahoma City office, the most the office has ever had, which allowed for more wishes to be granted in the short summer. Under the event coordinators, the interns helped with events planning and organizing each event.

“We would have events that are specifically for fundraising, volunteer appreciation and events for the actual Make-A-Wish kids and families,” Potter said.

In addition to the internship, which was unpaid, Potter worked as a full-time lifeguard and pool manger of a country club during the summer.

Potter was given the special opportunity to coordinate her own event, a Make-A-Wish Art Party. During this event the children of Make-A-Wish made gifts of art for donors to show their appreciation.

“Everything that I did there, whether it was actually planning my own art party event for the Make-A-Wish kids or making excel sheets for the other employees to make their job easier, I knew that no matter what I was doing, this work and effort was all for a good purpose and that’s what makes it all worth it,” Potter said.

Potter has continued working her internship with Make-A-Wish. The Oklahoma chapter has offered Potter a full time job after graduation in December.

“I am very excited about my future with Make-A-Wish and I know God is going to use me no matter where I am but I am so glad it will be with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma.”

In addition to the interns and the staff, volunteers also help at Make-A-Wish.

“There are about 12 people on staff at the Oklahoma City location, but it is the volunteers that make things happen,” Potter said. “The success of Make-A-Wish depends heavily on the help of volunteers in every aspect of our work.”

Currently there are about 100 active volunteers helping with Oklahoma City’s children’s wishes.

The opportunities to volunteer are endless. Volunteer tasks range from planning events and granting wishes to just dressing up in a costume and visiting a child in the hospital to put a smile on his or her face. Every job and person is important in making a wish successful and memorable.

Another way to help is by participating in local Make-A-Wish fundraisers.

During October people can view the 2008 Concept Home of Gaillardia Country Club. Wednesday was opening night and featured musical entertainment by Oklahoma’s well-known guitarist, Edgar Cruz, and food provided by Red Rock Canyon Grill.

The Concept Home is open through Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 at the door or $6 in advance at Mathis Brothers.

In November, some big-name celebrities will be traveling to the state fair arena to partner with Make-A-Wish children in a special event called the Celebrity Slide.

For more information on how to get involved with The Make-A-Wish Foundation or information pertaining to events, dates and donations, visit www.oklahoma.wish.org.

“I enjoy working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma because they serve a great purpose in making a difference in children’s lives that are battling with a life threatening illnesses,” Potter said. “They help remind the children and the families that there are people that care and they are not forgotten about.”

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To learn more about the Oklahoma Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, click here.

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