About Us

A Special Wish Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children under the age of 21 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder.

Founded in 1982, A Special Wish Foundation was one of the first wish-granting organizations in the United States, and now has chapters across the U.S. Since 1982, wishes have been granted to thousands of qualifying children. The Cleveland Chapter proudly opened its doors in 2013.

A Special Wish Foundation is the only major wish-granting organization in the United States which grants wishes to qualifying infants, children, and adolescents from birth through and including the age of 20 years.

Meet our volunteer staff and board here.

Kinds of Wishes:

  • A Special Gift — Computers, televisions, stereos, video games, even a puppy are included among the wishes we have granted. These wishes can captivate children and help take them away from the pain and uncertainty caused by their disorder.

  • A Special Place — Whether it’s a visit to a special friend or relative, amusement park, or other wish destination, A Special Wish Foundation handles complete travel and lodging arrangements for the child and members of the immediate family. This includes air transportation, hotel expenses, meals, spending money, and all other aspects of the travel wish.

  • A Special Hero — So many children dream about someday meeting their special hero, whether it be a sports figure, government leader, rock star or other entertainer. A personal visit is a true morale boost for the child, as well as a memory to hang on to during unsure times ahead.

  • Splashes of Joy — This program is a culture of hospital and home visits to our ASW families. These visits or activities can include a spa day for parents, toy/food drops, VIP access to Dave & Busters, private Lego Store VIP play dates, etc. These "Splashes of Joy" are put in place until the child is healthy enough to travel with his/her family for their "Big Wish" (i.e. Disney World, Hawaii, etc.) This inevitably creates a support mechanism and positive memories for the entire family unit - things these families most desperately need!

Whenever possible, immediate family members are included in the granting of wishes, to maximize the joy and memories for the child. A Special Wish Foundation offers their services to all qualifying children, and does not discriminate based on race, gender, nationality, or ethnicity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who can receive a wish?
A. The mission of A Special Wish Foundation is to grant the Special Wish of a child/adolescent. We can grant a wish for a child from birth through 20 years of age, who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a life-altering disorder. The child must be referred to A Special Wish by a parent or legal guardian, treating physician, or healthcare professional.

Q. Does the child’s condition need to be considered terminally ill to receive a wish?
A. A Special Wish Foundation is an organization focusing on hope for a full recovery. A physician only needs to sign a form indicating that the child is diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition to receive a wish.

Q. Will the wish be granted to a child who cannot communicate?
A. Yes. If a child is unable to communicate, due to their condition, we focus on the family, relatives, and non-family members (social workers, teachers, etc.) who work with the family to verify the true wish of the child.

Q. What are the most requested wishes?
A. Special wishes are only limited by the imagination of the wishing child. Most special wishes are included in the following categories:

Receiving A Special Gift:
Some gifts children have wished for include laptops, shopping sprees, bedroom makeovers, playground sets, televisions, and a puppy

Visiting A Special Place:
Some of the destinations children have visited for their wish include Walt Disney World, locations all over the continental U.S., a Super Bowl game, a Final Four game, and an All Star game

Meeting A Special Hero:
Some of the people who have spent time with a Special Wish children include sports figures, celebrities, movie stars, chefs, action heroes and political figures

Q. When should I apply for a wish?
A. We strongly encourage a child to be referred to A Special Wish soon after their diagnosis. We do not have restrictions as to the state of the child’s condition to be scheduled for a wish, only that the child is diagnosed with having a life-altering condition.

Q. How much does granting a wish cost?
A. The average cost to grant a wish is $7,000 - $10,000. The cost of a wish varies depending on the type of wish.

Q. Are there any restrictions on a wish?
A. Due to liability, we are unable to grant wishes such as motorized vehicles, in-ground pools or hot tubs, or international travel. We also do not grant wishes such as medical equipment, home improvements, or cash.

Q. Who is permitted to participate in the Special Wish?
A. Every attempt is made to include the child’s immediate family living in the household. If the wish child is an only child, they are permitted to have a companion participate in the wish. We also permit a caregiver to attend if the child is in need of professional medical assistance.

Q. With a travel Special Wish, are there specific dates that the child must travel?
A. It is the wish child’s and family’s choice as to the dates of travel. Every attempt is made to work with the child’s desired schedule.

Q. Does the family have to pay for any part of the wish?
A. No. All expenses including travel, accommodations, food and spending money are paid by the foundation through donations, fundraising efforts, and in-kind contributions.

Q. Is the family’s economic status a factor for their child to be eligible for a special wish?
A. No. There is absolutely no income qualification requirements that a wish family must meet for a child to be eligible for a Special Wish.

Q. What are A Special Wish Foundation’s sources of funding?
A. A Special Wish Foundation is strictly funded through donations. All of our wishes are granted through the generous support of corporations and individuals.

Q. Can my company or family contribute?
A. Corporations often donate through corporate giving or company foundations. Individuals also give annually or chose to donate to honor a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or in memory of a loved one who has passed away. Corporations, organizations or individuals may also choose to give through sponsoring a special fundraising event.

Q. Are contributions tax deductible?
A. Yes. A Special Wish Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and all gifts, including monetary and in-kind, are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law. Tax receipts, in the form of thank you’s, are provided by the foundation for all donations.

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