Make-A-Wish® Colorado Transforms Lives–and Backyards–for Children with Critical Illnesses

After months of being confined indoors, many of the waiting wish kids chose a backyard revamp
Alli 5 Liver Transplant Pink Playhouse 2020

5-year-old Allison sits outside her custom-built pink playhouse.

Since 1983, Make-A-Wish Colorado has been granting wishes that help transform the lives of children with critical illnesses throughout the state.

Each wish is unique to the child, who is encouraged to use his or her imagination to formulate his or her “one true wish.” Wishes fall into five categories: I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, I wish to have and I wish to give.

Leanna Backyard Makeover

16-year-old Leanna enjoys her new swing set.

For the first 36 years of the nonprofit’s existence, the majority of wishes fell into the “I wish to go” category.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to travel and large group wishes in order to protect the safety of these children who often have compromised immune systems.

Knowing that a wish can replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope, the Make-A-Wish Colorado team contacted all the wish kids whose wishes had been put on hold and offered them the option of waiting until travel and group meetings were safe or developing a new wish.

Leanna On Swing

After months of being confined indoors, many of the waiting wish kids chose backyard transformations that would allow them to play outside safely.

Over the past year, Make-A-Wish has received numerous requests for backyard treehouses, playhouses, sports courts/fields, skate parks and even a train park.

According to Scott Dishong, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Colorado, these backyard makeovers have been uplifting for the staff and volunteers, as well as the wish kids. “It’s an amazing experience to build something and then witness the delight of a wish kid the first time he or she sees it. It’s extremely heart-warming,” reports Dishong.

Some of the backyard wishes that Make-A-Wish Colorado has brought to life include:

  • A skate ramp for 11-year-old Walker, who is battling a disease of the digestive system.
  • A pink playhouse for five-year-old Allison who enjoys having tea parties and pretend gardening in between treatments for a liver condition.
  • A backyard makeover for 16-year-old Leanna who has a disease of the nervous system.

Make-A-Wish Colorado has strong relationships within the building community, with many local companies providing assistance to secure materials and donating labor to bring a child’s backyard makeover wish to life. However, with the increased number of backyard makeover wishes and the scarcity of building supplies, they are hoping more companies will get involved.

Walker On Skate Ramp

11-year-old Walker practices tricks on his skate ramp.

Dishong says, “Our goal is to grant these children’s wishes as quickly as possible because research shows that a wish encourages a child to fight for, and look forward to, the future, especially when they are going through treatment. We’re hoping that building suppliers and tradespeople will join us in making these wishes come true.”

Currently, Make-A-Wish Colorado is in need of concrete, lumber and landscape materials as well as builders, landscapers and tradespeople who are willing to donate their time.

To learn more about assisting on or donating to a backyard makeover, please contact Make-A-Wish Colorado COO Jennifer Getsch at jgetsch@colorado.wish.org or 303-750-9474.

With the support of the local building community, Make-A-Wish Colorado can transform the lives of Colorado children with critical illnesses–one backyard at a time.

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