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2019 Adopt-A-Wish Holiday Campaign Ambassadors

The Make-A-Wish Northeast New York Adopt-A-Wish Holiday Campaign is an institution in the region as it enters its 27th year. But the strength of the campaign is not the paper stars offered for donation at area malls, schools, banks and other business, but the wish kids portrayed on them – and the wish stories they and their families have to tell.

Meet our 2019 Adopt-A-Wish-Holiday Campaign wish ambassadors.

Capital Region

A ‘Favorite Dream’ Come True

Logan had what she called “a favorite dream.” Thanks to Make-A-Wish Northeast New York and Make-A-Wish® Hawaii, that dream came true.

“Ever since I saw the movie ‘Moana,’ I have wanted to go to Hawaii,” Logan, 10, said. “I wanted to swim with the dolphins, go to a luau, and learn how to hula dance. I was able to do this with my family.”

Logan, who is battling cystic fibrosis, is an aspiring singer and dancer. She was most excited about taking part in a luau and learning how to hula. She also wished to meet Hawaiian people, swim in the ocean, see a shark (not up close, mind you), and visit a volcano.

This past February wish kid Logan, mom Gina, dad Dion, and sisters Lindsay and Leanne flew to Oahu, Hawaii. Logan’s dream became a reality. (Janielle Krawczyk, Melissa Murphy and Pam Seegraber served as the wish granters.)

She swam with dolphins, had BBQ on the beach, crafted hand-made Hawaiian leis and participated in a luau. She even made time to relax at the Sheraton Waikiki with her sisters, one of which Logan looks up to because they have the same condition.

To this day, Logan talks how her trip to Hawaii was better than any Disney trip she has been on. She finally had the opportunity to just be a kid without worries and hang loose.

Sammy Meets Cizzorz

Sammy is a gamer. The 8-year-old’s favorite thing to do is play Fortnite and follow his favorite players on YouTube. When asked what his heartfelt wish was, he couldn’t think of anything better than to meet his favorite player and YouTube star, Cizzorz, at his mansion in Los Angeles.

“I am obsessed with Cizzorz, his personality, how well he plays the game and his posts on YouTube,” explained Sammy, whose wish was put together by Wish Granters John and Judi Melby.

Sammy left for sunny California filled with excitement knowing that his wish was going to come true so soon. While in L.A., he and his family spent the first day exploring the Santa Monica Pier and beach, where they got to go on rides and do some shopping.

On the second day, Sammy got his wish. He met Cizzorz and the rest of the FaZe Clan at their mansion, where they talked and played Fortnite all day. Sammy got to ask questions and learn new tricks from his gaming role models and his parents got to experience all of his joy right along with him. They also got to go on a game-related shopping spree!

To end the trip, the family enjoyed an adventure-filled day at Hollywood Universal Studios before heading back to the Capital Region.

A Transforming Wish

For 6-year-old Cole, meeting The Transformers at Walt Disney World® Resort was his heartfelt wish. Having the chance to meet the characters and experience the most magical place on earth with his family by his side was a dream come true!

Once in warm and sunny Florida, Cole and his family enjoyed a relaxing and fun week at Give Kids the World Village. Cole and his family also loved soaking up every bit of Disney magic exploring the theme parks, enjoying rides and meeting some of his favorite Transformers characters! In addition to the thrills of Walt Disney World, Cole also enjoyed Universal Studios, where he met his favorite superheroes and also explored Sea World.

For Cole and his family to experience the Disney VIP treatment was simply amazing. It was a week full of laughs, smiles and creating new memories to last a lifetime!

Bright Lights, Big Wish

If Alexis Thompson could write a letter to anyone, it would be the cast of Broadway’s “Hamilton,” which was fitting with her request to visit New York City.

Alexis, also known as Luka, wished to visit New York City and see “Be More Chill” on Broadway. Grandmother Edna and Uncle Charles were also part of this wish, facilitated by the efforts of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York and wish granters Eileen Berlanti and Kristle Mathison.

In April, she made the journey from East Greenbush to New York City with her grandmother and uncle, where she indulged herself in the city life. The trio visited Radio City Music Hall, where they got a tour of the building, both Top of the Rock and One World Trade Center Observatory Decks, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, saw “Be More Chill” on Broadway.

Along with seeing the play, Alexis got to go backstage, where she got autographs and photos with the cast of the play.

A Wish Awaits

Giada, not yet 3, wearing a comically oversized Make-A-Wish Northeast New York T-shirt and button, barreled through the Albany International Airport terminal tugging on her own luggage. Dad Howie followed close behind in his “giadastrong” T-shirt. Both wore faces of excitement.

Walt Disney World® Resort awaited.

Giada, battling cancer, wished for nothing more than to go to Disney. Wish granters Lisa Cimo, Hanna Cimo and Ray Gawlak were part of the effort able to make this possible. Leading up to the wish, her parents noted that there was a more positive attitude change in Giada, and it made everyone more excited to be a part of the wish experience. Soon, mom Niki, dad, brother Gavin, and grandmothers Shirley and Merilynda flew to Florida to make Giada’s wish a reality.

While visiting the Disney parks, Giada met Anna and Elsa, and explored the Magic Kingdom. She also went to SeaWorld and spent a day at Universal Studios, where she enjoyed time with her brother. According to Mom, Giada loved and remembers every minute of the trip, and constantly talks about how she wants to go back.

“Giada is fierce,” said mom Niki. “However, I think she taught the SeaWorld and Disney staff her soul was pure gold, and she had an impact on them.”

Packed Full of Excitement

Jaxon was so excited for his upcoming wish, he forgot about all his clothes and decided to pack himself instead weeks ahead of time.

Jaxon, a 4-year-old with a heart condition, wished to go to Walt Disney World ® Resort. Make-A-Wish Northeast New York and wish granters Ray Gawlak and Frank Valiante assisted Jaxon’s family in planning and fulfilling his wish.

Before heading to Florida, Jaxon got to open the Disney ® store in Crossgates Mall, where he was surprised with the news his wish was going to become a reality.

In April, mom Tiffany, dad Adam, siblings Braeden and Jinae, and grandmother Kari packed up not only Jaxon this time, but clothes and other necessities as well to head off to Disney.

North Country

Alyssa and the Gift of Giving

Alyssa, a Make-A-Wish® teen from Lewis, worked with her wish granters, Pat MacMannis and Amy Patnaude, for a year to decide what she wanted to do with her wish.

“I was struggling to come up with what I wanted for a wish and I was just talking to Mom about it and we were just thinking of things we could do,” Alyssa explained.

“And then I kind of just thought of it.”

The best gift, she decided, is to give back.

So the 16-year-old, who has spent her life dealing with Nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease, fulfilled her Make-A-Wish dream in August by donating $8,000 to benefit the Third Age Adult Day Center in Plattsburgh, where she volunteers and her mother, Jessica, works.

“We started out with, ‘I want to go on a trip,’ and then she decided that’s not what she wanted,” the mom said. “Then she decided she wanted a dog. And then she decided, ‘No that’s not what I want.’

“So we took a few months off and finally she goes, ‘I know what I want, and if I can’t have it there’s nothing else I want.’ So she told me that she would like to give back to the Third Age Adult Day Center.”

Alyssa, overwhelmed by the wide attention garnered by her check presentation at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Sibley Hall, stated she was thrilled to help friends. Clinton-Franklin-Essex Counties Lead Wish Granter MacMannis, who has been working with Make-A-Wish for 27 years, said Alyssa’s choice did not surprise.

“She’s very observant and she has a huge heart. And I think she sees a lot of herself in some of these participants in the program,” MacMannis said. “I think she sees people that need to ask for help sometimes and sometimes are vulnerable and I think she is someone who has had their own challenges with their health, recognized that in them and it’s a chance for her to give back.”

The Third Age Adult Day Center is a program for elderly individuals with developmental disabilities and memory impairment. Program manager Christine Ouellette says the money Alyssa is giving through Make-A-Wish will allow for the construction of a safe inner courtyard and patio area.

Child Gets Animated for Wish

Samuel Kingsley could not stop talking about the “Cars” movies and how he wanted to meet Lightning McQueen. And thanks to Make-A-Wish Northeast New York and wish granters Diane Roberts and Kismet McCormick, the 4-year-old was able to go on a wild ride.

Samuel is fascinated by the “Cars” movies, and his eyes light up every time he talks about them. That made flying to Disneyland® to tour Radiator Springs and meet McQueen himself the perfect wish.

The whole family flew to California to experience this wish with Samuel. They visited both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure® parks, got dinner at Medieval Times, attended the Wild West at Knott’s Berry Farm's amusement park, ate breakfast in Goofy’s Kitchen and, of course, met the “Cars” characters in Radiator Springs.

“Sammy said meeting McQueen was the best,” mom Shondra said. “He also liked that every place we visited made him feel special and welcomed … I enjoyed being as a family. We were relaxed and just enjoyed moments.”

Oct 14, 2019

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