It all started with the first wish in 1981, a wish by an 8-year-old boy named Frank “Bopsy” Salazar, who wished to be transported into the magical world of inspiration and motivation at Disney.
Thirty-four years later, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Disney will grant their 100,000th global wish together. Since Bopsy’s wish, Disney has given wish kids with life-threatening medical conditions incredible memories that can provide the hope, strength, and joy they need to fight their illness. This February, Make-A-Wish is celebrating all Disney has done to strengthen the families and communities where we all live, work and play.
Make-A-Wish America grants more than 14,000 wishes each year. More than 7,000 of them involve Disney’s help – ranging from once-in-a-life time meetings with favorite Disney talent and visits to Disney theme parks, to extraordinary trips on Disney Cruise Lines and relaxing stays at the Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. In 2014, Disney contributed more than $14.5 million through the donation of cash and theme park tickets to help grant these wishes.
“Since the very first wish, Disney has provided our wish kids with imaginative experiences and lasting memories, the type only Disney can provide,” said David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America. “Nearly 35 years and 100,000 wishes later, Disney’s steadfast support of our mission continues to grow as they help us all to believe that anything is possible. We are grateful to have such a dedicated and faithful friend.”
Disney’s support of Make-A-Wish extends far beyond the wish experience. In 2012, Make-A-Wish, as a signature partner, secured a grant from Disney, and every year since has received grants to help build wish infrastructure and other capacity-building programs. Disney-owned ESPN has showcased incredible sports-related wish stories on their annual “My Wish” series, this summer marks the series’ 10th anniversary; and the company encourages Disney VoluntEARS to contribute their time and talents to further the Make-A-Wish mission. The timeless bonds and memories Disney has created have helped kids through treatments, helped them overcome doubts and despair, and helped them feel and get better – because wishes work wonders.
Throughout the month of February, Make-A-Wish will showcase Disney wish stories on its website at wish.org, sharing the story of just a few of the thousands of wish kids impacted by their Disney experience. Make-A-Wish is proud to call Disney its longest tenured sponsor and sincerely thanks Disney for more than three decades of generous support through granting 100,000 wishes – and counting – since that first wish in 1981.