2017-03-13 / Front Page

Students helping grant wishes

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Ledger Staff Writer


C.J. Waters jumped from his chair with a quick burst of energy when the 8-year-old spotted a large Mickey Mouse cake and a box of Disney-themed cupcakes made by Gaffney High student Morgan Jane Martin.

The desserts were a highlight for a sendoff party held by high school students in C.J.’s honor last spring before he left with his family for a wish trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida. He joined his mother, Danielle, at Gaffney High on Friday to share his trip experience at an assembly program to kick off the school’s “Wish Week” fundraiser for Make-A-Wish South Carolina. The nonprofit group grants wishes for children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions.

C.J. has dealt with kidney failure most of his entire life and is in critical need of a kidney transplant, said Danielle Waters, C.J.’s mother.

“C.J. had one kidney shut down when he was born and is in stage four of kidney failure,” Danielle Waters said. “He has been through a lot in his life. C.J. had always wanted to go to Disney World. We just didn’t know how we were going to do it until our doctor referred us to Make-A-Wish.”

For one special week last May, Make-A-Wish allowed C.J. to feel like any 8-year-old kid as he explored Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida. He spent time with magical Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, visited Sea World and explored the wonders of movie magic inside Universal Studios theme park.

C.J. and his family stayed in “Give Kids the World Village,” a 79-acre nonprofit storybook resort where terminally ill children are treated to free weeklong vacations.

“C.J. was on top of the world,” Danielle Waters said. “I think his favorite thing was being served ice cream for breakfast and going on the rides. It was just wonderful to be enjoy time with C.J. and have that time for him to be a normal kid for a change without the stress of worrying about what was going to happen in the future.”

Make-A-Wish South Carolina granted 180 wishes last year. A total of 400 children are currently on the waiting list to have their wishes granted.

Gaffney High students will hold numerous fundraising events this week to raise money for Make-A-WIsh. Their goal is to raise $7,500, the average cost for one child’s wish.

During Friday’s kickoff event, Junior Ambassador and Beta Club members collected $1,374.85 in a “Miracle Minute” in which students raced into the crowd with blue buckets to collect as many donations as possible in one minute. 

Gaffney High Principal Dr. Raashad Fitzpatrick did his part to raise the stakes. Since students met their $1,200 goal, Fitzpatrick said teachers and staff will match the amount students donated in the “Miracle Minute.”

Students continued their fundraising efforts over the weekend with a car wash, princess party, kiddie sports camps and a skating party. Spirit nights will be held from 5-8 p.m. at Broncos on March 13, Chick-fil-A on March 14, Pete’s on March 15, and House of Pizza on March 16. 

The fundraising effort will end with a “Make-A-Wish Rave” March 24 for Gaffney High students at the VFW. During the dance, Gaffney High students will make a check presentation to Make-A-Wish.

All money raised will stay in South Carolina to help make wishes come true for children, said Misty Farmer, Make-A-Wish director of development.

“The wish experience is often the turning point in a child’s treatment,” Farmer said. “It enables them to fight harder to get over their illness. Just like medicine, the wish heals the body and the spirit.”

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