The panic always begins with the invites...we send about 60 out each year, that's an invite to every family of a wish child who has had a wish granted in the recent few years. Add their immediate family members, and the headcount could really grow! And of course you never hear back from everyone....so you wait and wait and wait....or in our case, you call and call and call! As of Saturday morning, 24 hours pre-party, we had 111 RSVPS!! How exciting! And oh, how many people!!But 4 volunteers with little checkbooks could not have made this happen alone! Because this is not a MAW fundraiser, MAW Headquarters cannot support this activity financially. Which means ALL party supplies, foods, decorations, location fees, door prizes etc. is either out of pocket, or donated. So, we knew it was time to bat those eyelashes (or beg!) and get some things free! And we certainly (like always) felt the love.
Like the Columbus Civic Center, check out that space above! We had room to spare, it was nice and cool, and who knew it would come with three handymen to help us out setting up and breaking down! (Though I think they were secretly hoping for BBQ too--which we served them in heaping spoonfuls!) This is our third year using this space, and as long as they keep renting a room for free I plan on coming back! It's perfect!
The next shout out has to go to Jeff Robinson, and Robinson Paving Company, who bought ALL the food for our party! He not only showed up with tons of BBQ, potato salad, brunswick stew and sweet tea, but about 40 pounds of chicken fingers from Publix as well! Oh, and did I mention there was a Christmas tree hanging off the back of his truck he had donated from a tree farm, just waiting for us to decorate!! Thanks Jeff!! You're definitely on Santa's good list! :) (He's gonna kill me for this pic, but he deserves props for all he did--sorry, you do!)
So the BBQ came from Macon Road BBQ, who also significantly discounted the order, thanks Mr. Starling!! And so you know, a wish kid, no older than 6 or 7, came up to Jeff and said "Mister, I'm pretty partial to Mike and Ed's, but this stuff is pretty good. You can bring Macon Road BBQ from now on!" What a spread!
We had so much BBQ we had to give all these yummy desserts their own table! Which was fine by them...the cupcakes and pretzels (made by yours truly) and other sweets (from our other precious volunteers) were all delicious for sure....
But surely couldnt outshine these precious cookies from Columbus Corner Bakery, each hand decorated and sprinkled with love and best wishes!!
CCB has been so good to MAW from day 1, I cannot buy a cake or cookie from anywhere else....it's a good thing they're goodies are so tasty!!
Now. Talk about a thank you. We loved the food, the drinks, the desserts, and a roof over our heads--without a shadow of a doubt. But there is one thing the kids loved to pieces.
They watched out....
They did not cry....
They did not pout....
And we told them why!
This guy came to town!
The MAW Foundation's mission statement is to bring "hope, strength, and joy" and if this joyful fellow didnt do it, I don't know who could! It was so much fun to see the kids (young and old! :) come to whisper to Santa their wishes!
This is Robert, whose big brother, Ty, is a wish kid from a few years past. He's a mess, and he loves his big brother, who is suffering from an awful disease, Juvenile Huntingtons, of which there is no cure. Ty is a hugger. His is the first I received at the party. He makes me smile. So does his precious kid brother.
Jacobi, oh Jacobi. What a sharped dressed man. And may I say he knew it, too! He strutted around the room all day, knowing his tail looked too too cute in his black dress pants and tie! I'm pretty sure he dressed up for me.... There is no telling what he said to Santa. All I know is the guy in the red giggled the whole time. Jacobi is going to Disney World in January, and can hardly wait!!
Jaden (that bundle of love AKA trouble) with the spikey hair on the right was kind enough to share Santa with his sister Jordyn on Sunday. I wonder how much he shares at home..... :) He was on his feet all day! Singing us Christmas carols, hugging our necks, and just going non-stop! Its refreshing to see what sometimes is hard to imagine as happy kids because deep down there is a sickness rumbling, as joyful...so fullspeed is what I love to see! Jaden will currently tell you he has "no idea what he wishes for!" We're still working on this little rascal!
Little Daniel's face in this picture I love! His daddy has convinced him to come up to see Santa, but he has put his foot down! So Daddy takes a picture with Santa instead, while Daniel looks very very sad. Back story: Daniel saw Santa Saturday and has asked why he is working on Sunday, instead of going back to work on his list! Oh my little angel! Sweet Daniel, who is fighting Leukemia like a champ, wished big to go to Disney World and fly there in a plane like his daddy does! And his wish was our command in November, he had a blast! Everyone loved Santa for sure, old and young, BIG and small! Thank you Danny, for sharing your time, your heart, your love of children, and your Santa suit with us!
As always, the party was a huge success, despite us nervous volunteers. There was a lot of love, hugs, and even a few tears. It always feels amazing to see my wish kids after granting their wishes, a reunion of sorts. So from MAW and my wish kids, and my own family to YOU, in our favorite words to say.....BEST "Wishes" and Merry Christmas!