Last month marked my one year anniversary of becoming a Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteer. It was actually by chance that I become a volunteer, but I’m happy I did neither the less.
For those that don’t know, this story starts over ten years ago when my wish came true, haha back when I was cute and fat (enjoy the photos below!). To be eligible to become a wish child you must be between the ages of 3 and 18, live in Australia and experience a life-threatening illness or medical condition (if you know someone who might fit this criterion then you can find more details here). I was 11 years old when my wish came true. I had always been an animal lover growing up and despite my mum wanting my sister’s and my wish to be to pay the mortgage and 6 months in Paris, I decided I wanted to swim with the dolphins.
I’ll try and keep the story short below, but one thing my family did learn about me during my wish, as I kept a journal, was that I write a lot (haha when I wasn’t watching SpongeBob) and in detail!
The thing about Make-A-Wish is that they go beyond what the wish is. So even though my wish was to swim with dolphins, they organised for my family to have a few days in Sydney first, where we got a behind the scenes tour of the Australian animals.
Dad and I also got to explore Sydney, while Mum and Rebecca took the first flight to Coffs Harbour (as only one wheelchair could fit on the plane). It was my first time in Sydney, so I had a lot of fun exploring!
The day after we all arrived in Coffs Harbour, it was the day of my wish. I was very excited! When we first arrived, we watched the dolphin and seal show which everyone can watch. After that when the public had left, I got in the pool with Calamity and her baby Bella (haha after they separate Calamity from the male dolphin which proved difficult because it was breeding season). I got to learn all about dolphins and my favourite part was probably feeling their skin of the first time; it’s so rubbery, plus it was amazing to be so close to these majestic but playful creatures. After playing with Calamity and Bella, who was super cute because she was still a baby (she’s down the back of the photo below with Rebecca), it was time to get out.
After getting out of the pool I got to meet Ellie the seal. She was so cute and had lots of personality. The photo below is probably one of my favourite photos and it actually hangs on the wall in my dining room at home. After kisses from her, it was, unfortunately, time to head back to the hotel.
In Coffs Harbour, we also got to visit the Big Banana and learn how bananas grow, which was really interesting. I also went on an ice rink for the first time and it’s nothing like driving on a normal ground. We also visited a few other tourist locations, including a clog workshop and a butterfly house, where we soon learnt that Becky and I don’t like butterflies (especially when we’re in a manual wheelchair and can’t drive away.
So how did I become a volunteer? Well, I had just completed the HBF Run for a Reason for Make-A-Wish and they were looking for a wish child to talk at their recruitment drive. So, I agreed to go along to talk about my wish.
I didn’t go into this recruitment drive thinking I would become a volunteer but after my talk, we completed an activity in groups where we had to design a wish for a child. I was there with Dad and we actually had a lot of fun. After receiving a wish, it was really interesting to see what happened behind the scenes.
At that point in my life I had university and horse racing but nothing really else, so I thought, why not give back? I also thought it would be a good opportunity to put my skills to use. After talking to some volunteers about what volunteering involved, I decided to sign up.
One year later, I’m really glad I made that decision. The biggest reason I’m happy that I become a volunteer is that I can give back so other children can experience a wish like I did. Volunteering has also been proven to help with mental health and giving you a purpose in life (you can read more benefits here).
So, if you’re looking to volunteer, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend it. If you specifically want to volunteer for Make-A-Wish you can follow this link. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to help!