Disneyland Resort cast members help fulfill approximately 700 Disney wishes each year for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Some of these cast members are wish recipients themselves and know firsthand the power of wishes.
Downtown Disney Business Relations Manager Joe Collins had his wish granted by Make-A-Wish at age 14. The wish was to take his family to Chicago to visit his dad’s family and to the University of Notre Dame in nearby Indiana. Being a huge Notre Dame fan, the trip was a dream come true for Joe, and his experience had such an impact that when Joe became a student at Notre Dame, he worked with the organization to be a wish grantor in northern Indiana.
When Joe came to Disney, he also was involved in rolling out a wish-granting program at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. “When I would greet families, I think they knew I could relate because of my experience, and they could see that there is hope for a positive outcome,” Joe said.
Crystal Young, a hostess at Hungry Bear Restaurant, considers every minute of her life a dream come true. As a child, Crystal was diagnosed with leukemia and fought it with chemotherapy and radiation for several years. Her wish was to visit Walt Disney World Resort, where she visited with some of her favorite Disney characters and developed her mantra, “Don’t give up.” Now married with a child on the way, she considers her remission a miracle and strives to be there for her ailing parents, as they were for her.
As Joe said, “Make-A-Wish is the most amazing organization. It takes you out of this horrible routine and gives everyone, not just the child, a break. The feeling we got from my wish spread far beyond our five-day trip.”