At this year’s Power of a Wish Gala, we showed guests the impact of a wish in a bit of a different way – by allowing them experience it themselves. From a startling diagnosis, to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to the long-term impact on a child, the wish journey is unlike any other.
Helping to create a long-lasting legacy – family philanthropy is an honor(ee)
Thirteen-year-old Kaitlin Leas described her father’s passion for Make-A-Wish this way: “I think my dad does the work he does with Make-A-Wish because he wants to make sure that kids who are sick have someone else on their side. I think he wants them to know that it’s important to look forward. When I get a grade I don’t agree with, my dad has taught me to stick up for myself. In a way, that is what he is doing at Make-A-Wish – he is sticking up for kids who need something more to get them through.”
Kaitlin introduced her father at the 2019 Power of A Wish Gala, which honored her father and the Leas family, for their outstanding and countless contributions to the chapter over the past five years.
Mr. Leas, a partner and the co-head of the global structured finance business of Apollo Global Management, LLP is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York. Sharing in this honor is his family, including Audrey Fisher and his children Kaitlin, 13, Jamie, 12, and George, 10. Mr. Leas is an incredible champion for wish kids. His passion for our mission has enabled the life-changing power of a wish to be felt by countless children fighting critical illnesses.
Christian wants to be an actor. For his wish, he wanted to get his future career off the ground and learn from one of the best – Will Smith. He traveled to the Aladdin premiere, and received some tips (and confidence) from the new Genie himself. At the Power of a Wish Gala, he used his new skills to steal the show (literally) and take over as host… until he got caught by the real gala host, Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson.
Ashley Park is a Tony Award nominee for her exhilarating turn as Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls on Broadway. She is also a pediatric cancer survivor and a wish kid! Originally from Michigan, her wish a decade ago had been to see “Broadway” (which at the time she thought was a single building and not a theater district!).
At our June 6th Power of a Wish gala, Ashley spoke about the long-term impact of her wish and of the joy of helping to grant the wish of another child:
“What you do in this organization is so important because being diagnosed as a young person is pretty surreal. Imagine being a kid, one morning you wake up worried about who is gonna get the choir solo, or where your crush is going for winter break… and then all of a sudden you have cancer!
It was a lot of time alone… being bald and medicated and that’s how I spent most of my sophomore year – in a hospital room with my nurses, my mom and grandma who were my caretakers while my dad was with my sister at home. So, our family didn’t get to be together in a room that whole time. Part of the reason why my wish was to go to NYC was to be all together. I was 17 at that point and had never been to NYC or seen a Broadway show, but I really felt in my heart that it was what I wanted to pursue.
That wish has carried me to this point.
We’d like to thank our Power of a Wish Gala Providing Strength Sponsors, Structure Tone and Zurich Insurance, not only for their generous sponsorship of the event, but for their continued support of our mission. Wishes are only made possible because of caring individuals and organizations; organizations like these. Thank you so much for your generous support.
For a full list of our amazing Power of a Wish Gala sponsors, click here.