Hi! My name is Cassi, and I started working as a Wish Coordinator at Kids Wish Network a few months ago after working in the school system for several years. Working at KWN has given me an even bigger opportunity to put smiles on kids’ faces.
Just this past week I was able to put big smiles on two amazing little girls’ faces. My first Wish Kids left last Tuesday for opposite ends of the country on the way to their amazing wishes – one headed to Disneyland in California with her family of four, and another, Gwendolyn, from Indiana to Charleston, SC, for a cruise to the Bahamas.
You’ll see more of Gwendolyn’s wish story later, but here’s an introduction.
Gwendolyn (or as she prefers – Gwen) wasn’t hitting the developmental milestones typical to most infants at 8 months old. After routine DNA testing was performed, the results came back negative for any abnormalities. Then, at the age of 2, Gwen started having numerous seizures which prompted her pediatrician to order more extensive testing. She was finally diagnosed with Mitochondrial Complex 1 Deficiency, a disease that results from failures of the mitochondria which are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body. Gwen was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and due to her illnesses, she has extremely low muscle tone and is completely insulin dependent. She also has very low verbal skills, only able to express her needs in simple words. When I asked what she wanted to do for her wish she was able to say “Big Boat.” So, that’s what I planned.
When it came to the details of Gwen’s trip I worked closely with her mom, and we began to build a close relationship. She asked if I would send a little bit of information about myself as she was putting together a flip book for Gwen about her wish. I really began to understand the big part I played in my Wish Kids’ wishes.
Once all of the plans were set, I noticed it had been over a week since I had talked to Gwen’s mom, so I called to see how things were going with Gwen and the family. Her mom seemed so happy I called, and she said something like “what am I going to do after Gwen’s wish is over? Will I still be able to call you?” With that, I knew I had become more than a Wish Coordinator; I had become a part of Gwen’s family and they a part of mine.
As a Wish Coordinator, I am not the family’s travel agent or just an organizer of their wish. I am a friend and an ear to listen. I build these relationships not only with the Wish Kids, but with the entire family, and these connections don’t end with the fulfillment of a wish. I love my job, and seeing the pictures of my new friends with a smile on their face brings me great joy and gives me a huge smile of my own.
– Cassi, Wish Coordinator