January 2019
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January 2019

Transform lives, one wish at a time.

Wishes help children replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Jason’s Happy New Year and New Beginning

At nine years old, Jason was an extremely active kid. His dad, Rex, coached his basketball team and noticed that Jason had more than his share of bruises.


It became clear that something was wrong, but it would be almost three years before he received a diagnosis of aplastic anemia. The condition occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells and leaves you feeling fatigued and with a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.


“I missed school a lot,” said Jason. “I’d get tired a lot and would need to take naps throughout the day.” Pretty much everything he was into he was no longer allowed to do. No sports. He became an indoors kid.


At 14, Jason’s platelet counts fell dangerously low and he was immediately put on a bone marrow transplant list. Shortly after his transplant, his doctor and social worker at Children’s Hospital LA referred him to Make-A-Wish.


During his treatment, Jason thought a lot about his wish, which kept his spirits up. He is a “New Year’s baby” – born January 1, 2000 – and he dreamed of visiting New York City to see the ball drop on his birthday. He saw it as the finish line after an eight-year battle and an incredible way to celebrate his 18th birthday, reflect on his journey and look positively to the future.


The highlight of the trip was New Year’s Eve in Times Square including a behind the scenes tour of the famous mirrored ball, but they were mostly surprised with the lightness they felt as a family.  “We were having dinner for his birthday when it really clicked, the purpose of the trip,” said Rex. “For a week we forgot that he was sick.”

How to Help

Become a Monthly Donor

Your monthly contribution will have a direct impact on the life of wish kids - we can't do it without you.

Volunteer Your Time

Only volunteers grant wishes! Join a caring community and see firsthand the power of hope when you help transform the life of a child.

Raise Funds

The only limit is your imagination. Host an event, donate your birthday, start a dress-down day at the office... the opportunities are endless!

Long Beach Polar Bears: How Two Guys Went for a Swim and Raised $6.3 Million

Since 2000, the Long Beach Polar Bears have raised $6.3 million from their annual Super Bowl Splash to grant the wishes of children with critical illnesses!


The Polar Bears are motivated by a touch of madness, camaraderie and a common goal: to honor the memory of Paulie Bradley and to keep his young spirit alive in others.


We sat down with Pete Meyers, one of the founding members of the Long Beach Polar Bears, to learn how a simple idea turned into a community fundraising powerhouse.


Q: Tell me how two guys deciding to jump into the ocean in February turned into a $6.3 million community fundraiser.


A: Kevin McCarthy and I were friends and neighbors in Long Beach, Long Island. We were talking one day about doing the New Year’s Day jump with the Coney Island Polar Bears, but I couldn’t make it that year. So, we decided to do our own jump on Super Bowl Sunday down at our beach. It was great, and we decided to make it a tradition. We mentioned it to our other neighbors and the following year 18 people showed up. I made sweatshirts with polar bears on them for fun. That year, Mike and Patty Bradley, also neighbors, asked if we could turn the jump into a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish in honor of their son Paulie, who had recently died of leukemia at the age of 4. Patty loved the sweatshirts and thought we could sell them and donate the proceeds. We immediately said yes. Why? Because that’s what Long Beach neighbors do. They help each other. They support each other. It’s a very tight-knit community.


Q: But how did it grow from a neighborhood outing to a massive community event?


A: At first it was literally just our friends. Then their friends started showing up. It grew through word of mouth. This was before there was social media. It was just friends telling friends, neighbors telling neighbors. Long Beach is a very special community. People take care of each other. When someone says, “I’m doing a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. Will you support me?” they do.


The first year as a fundraiser about 40 people showed up and we raised $7,800, enough to grant one wish (in those days). In no time, hundreds of people were showing up.

Read More

This year’s Long Beach Polar Bear Super Bowl Splash takes place on Sunday, February 3, 2019.

For more information or to register, please go to http://superbowlsplash.kintera.org.

A New Year – Time to Consider a New Type of Giving?

The New Year is a time of renewal and trimming excess. A great way to streamline your life is to consider monthly giving rather than an end of year donation scramble.  Monthly giving is a scheduled financial donation given to the cause you care about – you set it and forget it – all while making a difference.


Visible life improvements include:



  • Time saved.Your gift is transferred automatically each month and appears your monthly credit card or checking account statement.
  • Being able to change your mind. Want to increase, decrease or suspend your gifts? Just call Elizabeth Merkouris at 646-558-5613.
  • Knowing that you’re amazing. We’ll keep in touch so that you know how you are helping wishes come true every month.

Wish Impact

Research shows, and physicians agree, wishes can help improve a child’s quality of life and produce better health outcomes. Learn more about the real impact of a wish.


A wish transforms the lives of children, families, volunteers, medical professionals and entire communities. Read stories from life-changing wishes and beyond.

Event Calendar

Read more about local events benefiting Make-A-Wish in our community.

Sign Up to Receive Wishful Thinking
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