Make-a-Wish grants locals’ dreams

By BEVERLY CASTEEL,

Marco Orduna-Arvizu, a 15-year-old student at Kosciusko High School, is the latest local recipient of a trip to Disney World for him and his entire family of eight from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Diagnosed with kidney disease in 2016, Marco wished to go to Disney World, and it was important to him to take his entire family.

“Marco met the critical illness requirements to have his wish granted,” said Vera Johnson, program director at Mississippi Make-A-Wish. “If you qualify, you get a wish, and it allows us to put hope and joy in the lives of those who are critically ill.”

When he was presented the trip during a recent gathering at the offices of the Kosciusko-Attala Partnership, Marco could not name any one thing that he is looking forward to at Disney.

“I’m excited about enjoying all of it,” he said with a smile.

The family headed to Disney on Tuesday, Mar. 10, Marco’s fifteenth birthday, and returned on Monday, Mar. 16. The timing was perfect - Marco and his family were able to enjoy their entire visit uninterrupted just before Disney parks were closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Marco said he enjoyed Universal Studios the most, and his favorite ride was the Transformers.

Isabell McBride hit the sand

Kosciusko resident Isabell McBride was also previously granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When in preschool Isabell was diagnosed with a glioma (tumor) located right over the hole where spinal fluid enters. She lost control of her body movements (ataxia) and had to have shunt neurosurgery for hydrocephalus. She also had to undergo chemotherapy treatments for a year. The treatments stemmed tumor growth, and it currently remains the same size as when she diagnosed, about the size of a quarter.

Now 8 years old and a student at Kosciusko Lower Elementary, Isabell had never been to the beach and made that her wish.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent her, her parents and her two sisters to Destin, Florida, for an entire week last August.

“Isabell said it was the best time she’s ever had. She loved being there and always had a smile on her face,” said Selina McBride, Isabell’s mother.

About the organization

Make-A-Wish Mississippi is one of 60 chapters nationwide and is part of the largest wish-granting organization in the world.

“The child must have a critical condition (progressive, degenerative or malignant) to be eligible for a wish,” said Allison Tyler, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Mississippi. Some other fast facts about Make-A-Wish are listed below:

•   Make-A-Wish Mississippi will grant about 95 wishes this year.

•   The average cost of wishes is $6,500. All expenses are covered by Make-A-Wish.

•   Make-A-Wish Mississippi uses more than 10 million air miles per year. Delta, United, American or JetBlue miles can be donated.

•   Wish granting uses more than 73 cents of every dollar.

•   Most wishes fall into one of four categories: to go, to meet, to be or to have.

•   Wish kids have critical illnesses, not necessarily terminal illnesses.