Local High Schoolers Make Wishes Come True
Writer / Julie Yates
The Make-A-Wish Club of Hamilton Southeastern High School was honored in 2020 for its remarkable efforts raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. After contributing $10,000 to the Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana branch of the national nonprofit organization, the club received the Make-A-Wish Youth Leaders of the Year award.
This year the club is facing challenges brought on by COVID. While members have only reached half of their fundraising goal, they are hopeful that partnerships with area businesses and organizations, along with socially distanced events, will take them past the finish line.
Led by co-presidents Luke Andritsch and Brianna Wright and their leadership team, the mission of the club is to raise money to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases. An average wish costs between $8,000 and $10,000, and typically includes an entire family. While some wishes might involve a trip to Disney World, often a child desires something for the greater good.
Two wishes recently granted in Indiana serve to benefit other ill children in the community as well as the recipient. One example is an inclusive swing, accessible for children with physical disabilities, installed at Roy G. Holland Memorial Park. Although not in a wheelchair now, Kammy Hiner remembered what it was like when she was unable to use the swings at the park, and wanted to build an adaptive swing.
Another example is a therapeutic petting zoo in South Bend. Michael Latowski is a young leukemia patient who hopes to train the goats, and create his own therapeutic goat farm to help others like him cope with critical illnesses.
“This year is strange,” Andritsch says. “We couldn’t do normal events. Usually we have a haunted house in the cafeteria, a holiday concert featuring local artists and students, and a spring festival. We had to do an online campaign and COVID-safe events. All the officers of the club were resourceful and worked very hard so people could enjoy the activities and still be safe. We have had raffles with prizes donated from businesses such as Geist Coffee Company and the HSE Fan Stand. Other events have been candy grams, fun runs and physical activities.”
Recently this past spring, the club hosted a Wish Week. Spirit days and in-school activities were held. The week ended with a field day, which included different games, and food was served following COVID-safe practices.
“We want to raise as much money as possible for these kids who are sick and deserve to have some normality and happiness brought into their lives,” Andritsch says. “The aim of the HSE Make-A-Wish Club is to raise enough money to grant a wish every year. A granted wish makes the child and family feel normal again and, for a short time, maybe makes them feel like a family that doesn’t have to worry about this struggle in their life.”