Make-A-Wish Foundation in Abu Dhabi

Holiday Inn celebrates a birthday with some special children Discuss this article

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It’s a heart-warming thing when a global brand reaches out to disadvantaged members of the community. This month, the Holiday Inn is teaming up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation UAE to put a smile on the faces of kids with life-threatening conditions. In celebration of their third anniversary on October 29, Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi is hosting a one-off éclair cutting ceremony for mothers with special three-year-olds.

The event will be open to the public and will include a large éclair, over ten feet long, for the young ones to cut as well as an opportunity for parents to interact and mingle. Philipp Economou, the general manager of the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, tells Time Out about the reason behind the hotel hosting such an event. ‘It is the first time that the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi has come together with the Make-A-Wish Foundation UAE,’ he says. ‘When I was in Miami, I worked closely with the organisation there. We have organised gala dinners and other fund raising events for them there and hope to do the same here. Also our PR manager was closely associated with activities for the organisation in India, so we felt it would be great if we could bring our experiences and help the organisation in the UAE as well.’

This is not the only charity event that the hotel is involved with. ‘We have been part of the [annual charity cancer fun run] Terry Fox Run since the hotel opened and we have members of our team who participate. Besides this we also have our corporate social responsibility as part of the International Hotels Group which is the IHG Shelter in a Storm programme, providing our hotels with guidance on when and how to react to disasters,’ says Economou.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation as it stands today can trace its roots to a very special event in 1980.

A seven-year-old boy called Christopher James Greicius was succumbing to leukemia in a hospital in Illinois. His one greatest wish was to become a police officer.

A cop had befriended Christopher and, with the help of his station, made Christopher’s dream a reality. On April 29 that same year, the boy enjoyed the experience of being a police officer for a day. Despite his physical suffering, as well as his family’s anguish, the experience seemed to lift everyone’s spirits.

The following day, Chris passed away, yet the impact of that event was to spawn one of the greatest American non-profit organisations to date.

Originally dubbed the Chris Grecius Make-A-Wish Memorial, the foundation soon established itself as an official charity and began gathering donations and approaching other sick children. The mission of what is now called the Make-A-Wish Foundation is very simple. They seek out children with life-threatening medical conditions and grant them a special wish, in an effort to bring some happiness and joy to those suffering and their families.

The organisation quickly grew in fame across the country and is currently one of the most reputable charities world wide.

Originally founded by Frank Shankwitz, Linda Bergendahn-Pauling and Scott Stahl, the foundation immediately caught the attention of the media, who were instrumental in its success and prominence. Soon after, Disneyland began working closely with them, granting the most sought after wish of bringing sick children to enjoy their facilities for a day. By the year 2000, Make-A-Wish had granted over 80,000 wishes and currently boasts it grants a wish every 40 minutes.

The organisation is now an international one and opened its doors in the United Arab Emirates in 2003. Chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Sheikha Bint Saif Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, the Make-A-Wish Foundation UAE is dedicated to granting the wishes of sick local and expatriate children. Most of the patients suffer from cancer and Thalassemia Major – a condition causing the destruction or degradation of red blood cells, as well as other illnesses. Some of the most notable wishes that were requested in the UAE included being a pilot, a police officer and a princess, all of which were granted.
If you would like to learn more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation visit www.makeawish.ae (02 666 5144).

By Sara Taher
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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