SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Each year on World Wish Day, the Make-A-Wish Foundation honors those who come together in support of granting wishes to children.
For 40 years, the Make-A-Wish foundation has been granting wishes to children battling critical illnesses. Children like Jaxon Hotchkin, who was born with Surge Weber Syndrome … which led to having glaucoma in both of his eyes.
“My wish was to go up and see a giraffe and feed a giraffe and train a giraffe and I got to do that,” Wish Kid Jaxon Hotchkin said.
In February, Make-A-Wish sent Jaxon and his family to Disney World to stay at Give Kids the World Village and visit giraffes at Animal Kingdom.
“I got to meet Donald Duck, he’s my number one favorite character. And I got Olivia D here and I got Mickey and I got the orca in the back,” Jaxon said.
Jaxon says he also enjoyed riding roller coasters, going on water rides and playing putt-putt. Jaxon’s mom, Ashley Hotchkin, says the trip was a blessing.
“It was so fun to get to see him smile and laugh and just be super carefree and not have to worry about the stuff that we deal with everyday. The doctor’s appointments, the eye pressures, all the different things that he typically has to worry about,” mom Ashley Hotckin said.
That carefree feeling is something the Make-A-Wish South Dakota foundation has granted to 1,517 wish kids.
“Every single one of those wishes is special and important to our organization and worth a great celebration. So, we celebrate all those wishes that have happened in our chapter since 1984, but we also celebrate all those wishes yet to come,” Sue Salter, president of Make-A-Wish South Dakota said.
This year for World Wish Day, the foundation launched a new campaign called “Wishes Need Stars Like You.”
“The purpose of the campaign is to let everybody know that we all have the collective star power to really be that light of hope for some of the most vulnerable among us,” Salter said.
Because of COVID-19, Salter says 14 wishes in South Dakota have had to be postponed.
“We’re working together between our staff and our volunteers, even the general public can get involved by leaving messages of hope for these kids to keep their spirits lifted and high during their time of waiting. Now, more than ever, we need people to come together and support those efforts,” Salter said.
Salter says the organization is still granting wishes that don’t involve travel or exposure to crowds during the pandemic.