December 21, 2016 — Say “Aloha” to seventh-grader Isabella Bullard! The GFMS student had the trip of a lifetime granted this past March, thanks in part to nearly two decades of Make-A-Wish fundraising right here in GF Nation—and star sales are happening again, right now!
This December marks the 18th year of district-wide efforts to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeastern New York—an organization that grants special family experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses in the 518 area code. And nine months ago, Bella’s wish to go to Hawaii was granted by Make-A-Wish.
“Bella has Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and was diagnosed when she was 3 years old,” says her mom, Kimberly Bullard. “She has had several procedures and surgeries since then.” PCD is similar to Cystic Fibrosis with breathing and digestive issues. “She has been on restricted activity since November 2014 due to the pulmonary strain it puts on her body and the episodes that come with that,” Mrs. Bullard continued. “That means no sports, no recess, no physical strain at all. Just before we left she spent time at the Boston Children's Hospital undergoing tests.”
The family’s Hawaii trip was a wonderful experience and healthy distraction from hospitals and tests. “The perfect weather, the gorgeous surroundings, the organic food, extremely pure water, and the love they showered on her made for a memorable trip,” says Mrs. Bullard. “Everywhere we went the Hawaiian people gushed over her and gave her presents and even made her the star of a luau! It was all amazing, and we are so humbled and grateful for all they did for us.”
The Make-A-Wish organization relies on donations and other partnerships to create these meaningful experiences, and one major fundraiser is the group’s annual star sale. Paper ornaments are sold at shopping malls and workplaces—and for the last 18 years, they’ve been sold in each of Glens Falls City Schools. Over the years, the district-wide fundraiser for Make-A-Wish has grown to include cookie sales, coffee sales, and even big personal donations to support the effort.
This year, eighth-grader Ashton Cote contributed $100 of his own money to the star sale. “I talked to his dad about it and let the family decide if he wanted a refund,” says school counselor Jen Shaver. “Ashton said he wanted all of it to go to Make-A-Wish because it will help give a kid a chance to do anything he or she wants!”
Fellow middle school students Caroline Shaver, Morrison Northrop, Lilly Gallagher, Isabella Ferraro, Paige Sylvia, and Robin Gorton raised $120 for the effort at their fourth annual cookie and hot cocoa stand in the girls’ neighborhood. And GFMS staff member Bobbi Harris again hosted a ‘Turtle Coffee’ day where staff members could purchase a coffee or tea with whipped cream, caramel and chocolate shavings, with all of the proceeds donated to Make-A-Wish.
The district-wide efforts have raised thousands of dollars for the local Make-A-Wish chapter over the years: $1,496 in 2012; $1,241 in 2013; and $1,317 in 2014, as examples. These donations, along with many others from around the region, have helped grant the wishes of local children for many years--and this year it was Bella’s turn!
Now as a seventh-grader, Bella focuses on her love for painting, designing clothes, writing and photography. “She has a great group of friends and even volunteers at our church's youth program,” says Mrs. Bullard.