Wishes 4 kids celebrates its tenth anniversary of helping terminally ill youngsters across Leicestershire and granting their wishes. James Black gets inside the dream charity that brings back the magic of childhood.
Leicester-based charity Wishes 4 Kids celebrates this September its tenth anniversary of fulfilling the wishes of children and young people, who are life limited, terminally ill or have experienced life-changing emotional trauma.
Wishes 4 Kids was established in 2002 by Russell Brickett after he had gone through the process of caring for his wife when she was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully Russell’s wife survived the illness. Going through such a life-changing experience had a profound effect on Russell and made him want to “give something back” so he decided to found an organisation that goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that each individual wish is a magical experience for every child, and is a moment that parents and family members will always treasure.
Over the last ten years Wishes 4 Kids has put on special events for 2500 children across Leicestershire, an incredible number considering that all of the day-to-day organisation and running of the charity is carried out by Russell and volunteer Janine Bates.
Explaining the ethos behind Wishes 4 Kids, Russell said: “We have deliberately kept the charity local and focused on solely helping children throughout the city and county. This allows us to grant wishes to children all the way from six months up to 18 years of age. By keeping things local we have also been able to expand the criteria allowing us to include children who have suffered severe and life changing traumas. An example of this could be a child who has been abused or has been diagnosed as HIV positive.”
To commemorate the occasion the organisation will grant wishes covering a broad spectrum. They will bring three terminally ill Catholic children to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and this year, for example, 260 kids enjoyed a special day out at Donington Park Racing Circuit to meet with owners and drivers of Ferrari, Porsche and Lotus supercars.
However, the favourite wish amongst younger children is to spend never ending holidays in Disneyland Paris. Another popular request is for youngsters is giving them the opportunity to meet in person one of their idols. Over the years Wishes 4 Kids has managed to secure a host of A-list celebrities to take part in events such as this one, including Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, Katy Perry, Elton John and Britney Spears.
Many teenagers ask for a laptop computer or iPad so that they can keep in touch with friends and family when they are undergoing prolonged bouts of hospitalisation.
Summing up his experience in helping to make the young people’s wishes come true, Russell, said: “I am probably the most fortunate person in the world. I accompany the children on 99% of the wishes and get to see the magic take place. A lot of these children are going through treatments that are painful and stressful but you always see the excitement and the adrenaline overtake all of that. We try to get as many photographs as we can on these occasions because in the case of terminally ill children this might be one of their family’s fondest memories of their child, when they had a wonderful time and had a beaming smile on their face.”
For more information you can visit Wishes 4 Kids website www.wishes4kids.co.uk Telephone 0116 2543491
Wishes 4 Kids – 67 Regent Road, Leicester LE1 6YF