PARKERSBURG - Businesses throughout the state are asking community members to help children's wishes come true.
Throughout the month, more than 500 convenience and grocery stores throughout the state will be selling $1 Make-A-Wish Stars, with the money going to fund wishes for West Virginia children with life-threatening medical conditions. The fundraising event is through a partnership between the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association and the West Virginia chapters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Officials gathered Wednesday at Foodland on Plum Street in Parkersburg to announce the fundraising kickoff. Owner Jim Oppe is the chairman of O.M.E.G.A.
Photo by Michael Erb
Five-year-old Shylia Campbell, who is in remission from neuroblastoma, talked Wednesday about going on a Disney cruise sponsored by the West Virginia Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation has teamed with the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association to raise money for the charity by selling wish stars in October.
"What we are most proud of is giving back to the community," he said. Make-A-Wish "is a wonderful charity and they do a great job."
Last year O.M.E.G.A. raised more than $200,000 for the foundation.
"We raised enough to grant a wish to one person in each county," in West Virginia, Oppe said.
Jan Vineyard, president of O.M.E.G.A., said since 2003 the association has raised more than $1.4 million for charities and community organizations.
"A lot of our members give back to their communities, but we felt we needed to do something as a whole state," she said.
Marisa Pedro, regional manager for the southern West Virginia Make-A-Wish Foundation, said this marks the fourth year the charity has partnered with O.M.E.G.A. The two groups have raised more than $700,000 for the charity, and this year the groups hope to break the $1 million mark.
"Without O.M.E.G.A. and their members, it would be tough," she said.
Wednesday's kickoff also showcased some of the local success stories for Make-A-Wish. Five-year-old Shylia Campbell, who is in remission from neuroblastoma talked about going on a Disney cruise.
"I met Mickey and Minnie and Pluto," she said, naming a half dozen other characters her and her family were able to interact with during the trip.
Lisa Lockhart's then-15-year-old son Trenton was able to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in October, taking pictures with them, receiving a signed football and even attending a football game.
"It was a very busy day for him, a very busy time," she said. Trenton Lockhart, who is now 16, has autism and a seizure disorder.
"It was a very good wish, and we are so grateful," Lisa Lockhart said.
"When you talk to the children and hear the stories, this is the best part of my job," Pedro said.
This year the organization's southern West Virginia branch has granted 80 wishes, and combined with its northern branch the West Virginia Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted wishes to 120 children, Pedro said.