By: Courtney Dabney
A Wish With Wings, the Fort Worth-based organization that grants wishes to children who have life-threatening medical conditions, is Dream Home’s designated charity for the third year in a row. A Wish With Wings receives the gross proceeds from the $10 tickets sold to tours of the Dream Home, and some tour participants make larger donations. But more important is the exposure A Wish With Wings receives from its connection to the Dream Home and the tours and publicity, Judy Youngs, executive director of A Wish With Wings, says.
Two years ago, a woman visited that year’s Dream Home for a tour, learned about A Wish With Wings and applied for and was granted a wish for her child.
“Now they’re one of our amazing Wish families,” Youngs, who recently celebrated her fifth year as executive director, said.
A Wish With Wings was founded in 1982 in Fort Worth. Today, it raises more than $1 million annually to fulfill its wish budget. Its major annual fundraiser is a spring gala called Butterfly Wishes.
For the year through August, the organization has received and is in the process of granting 40 wishes, Youngs said.
By the end of the year, that number will likely grow to about 50, she said.
There are four criteria to apply for a wish: the child must be 3-18 years old when A Wish With Wings receives the application; must have a life-threatening medical condition; must live in Texas or be undergoing treatment in the state; and must not have received a wish from another wish-making organization.
More than half of wishes are for visits to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“We know the child and the family are going to have an amazing time,” Youngs said. “The other wishes are as unique and amazing as the kids.”
One story Youngs likes to tell is the one about a Keller girl named Claire, who wanted a baby cheetah.
A Wish With Wings teamed up with the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose to offer Claire a visit with two cheetah cubs, Bruce and Moose, where she was able to pet them. Years later, Claire returned to visit Bruce and Moose, who were grown and substantially larger.
“She was convinced that Bruce and Moose would remember her,” Youngs said. With Claire standing outside their enclosure this time, “sure enough, they walked right over to her.”
For her birthday annually, Claire asks relatives and friends to make donations to Fossil Rim.
To fulfill the Walt Disney World wishes, A Wish With Wings works with the Kissimmee, Fla. nonprofit Give Kids The World Village, which operates a 79-acre resort near Disney World that offers children with life-threatening conditions a cost-free, weeklong vacation.
A Wish With Wings flies its Wish children and their families to Orlando and provides them with rental cars. Families stay in two-bedroom, two-bath villas. The resort throws nightly parties, and Disney World and Universal Studios donate park passes.
A Wish With Wings pays a flat fee per family to Give Kids The World Village. “We could not do what we do as cost-effectively without our partnership with Give Kids The World Village,” Youngs said.
A Wish With Wings covers transportation and other costs.
To the families, “everything is cost-free,” Youngs said. “If they order pizza to be delivered to their villa, it’s free.”
2015 Fort Worth, Texas Dream Home
1100 Lake Carillon Lane, Southlake, 76092
Benefiting: a Wish with Wings
Touring: Sept. 26-Oct. 25
Wed-Sat: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun: Noon-5 p.m.
Admission: $10, Free with a $20 subscription ($10 goes to the charity)
By: Courtney Dabney