Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Wish Fulfillment Organizations for People With Cancer

Wish fulfillment organizations offer children and adults with a chronic or advanced condition, such as cancer, the chance to take a break from the challenging experience by allowing them to have their wishes and dreams come true. Such dreams—big or small—may include taking a family vacation, attending an event, purchasing a desired item, or meeting someone special. Whatever the wish, wish fulfillment organizations aim to help people with advanced illness enrich the quality of their lives and create meaningful memories.

Various organizations have differing eligibility requirements and limitations regarding the types of wishes they grant. If you or a child or an adult you know has a wish they would like granted, consider contacting one of the following organizations.

Wish fulfillment organizations for children

Believe in Tomorrow Children's Foundation. Best known for offering parents temporary housing near the hospitals where their children are being treated, this foundation also provides funding for various adventures for children with advanced diseases.

Children's Wish Foundation International. This Atlanta-based nonprofit grants wishes to children with advanced illness, including advanced cancer, who are younger than 18 years old. Children who are “too young to make a wish that is truly their own” can participate in the organization's Young Minds program, which provides children younger than three years old with an assortment of gifts to entertain and provide comfort.

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer. Through the Medicine of the Heart program, this foundation anonymously grants wishes to children with advanced cancer who come from financially needy families. A health care provider, such as a doctor or nurse, must nominate the child.

The Dream Factory. The Dream Factory grants wishes to critically and chronically ill children who are between three and 18 years old. Parents, guardians, physicians, other caregivers, and children with advanced diseases can make referrals to begin the wish-granting process.

Give Kids the World. The Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre resort in Central Florida that offers accommodation, entertainment, and other attractions for children with life-threatening illnesses. The charity provides children between the ages of three and 18 and their families free, one-week vacations to help create long-lasting memories. A child must be sponsored by one of more than 250 wish-granting organizations in the country or a children's hospital affiliated with Give Kids the World.

Hope Kids. This charity hosts regular events and activities (a “never-ending” wish) that help restore hope for the future. Hope Kids also provides a support community for children with advanced illnesses and their families.

Jason's Dream for Kids. Jason's Dreams for Kids grants wishes to children diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition. The organization relies on medical professionals and parents for referrals and determines medical eligibility with the help of the treating physician.

Kids Wish Network. The Kids Wish Network grants wishes for children who are between three and18 years old. The organization's “Our Hero” program also provides wishes for children who have overcome life-altering circumstances and endured great pain and suffering. Anyone can refer a child, including a family member, friend, nurse, doctor, or social worker.

Make-a-Wish Foundation. The nation's largest wish-granting organization, Make-a-Wish fulfills the wishes of children between two and a half and 18 years old with life-threatening medical conditions, aiming to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.” The organization accepts referrals from health care professionals and parents, and children can even nominate themselves. After evaluating medical eligibility, a team of volunteers meets with the child to help identify the child's "true wish."

The Marty Lyons Foundation. Founded by professional football player Marty Lyons after serving as a surrogate father of a three-year-old boy with a life-threatening illness, the foundation helps grant wishes for children with advanced illnesses.

Memories of Love. This organization provides children who have parents with advanced illness with a chance to form long-lasting memories by going on vacation with their entire family. Families are sent on a five-day, all-expense-paid vacation to Orlando, Florida. A physician, health care provider, or care organization must identify and nominate a parent who has an advanced illness.

Nicki Leach Foundation. This foundation provides financial assistance to teenagers and adults between 16 and 25 years old who have advanced cancer. The foundation's clients often use this assistance to pay for specific needs or activities that they may not be able to afford, such as clothing, college, a cell phone, or bills. The applicant's oncologist must confirm diagnosis.

Operation Liftoff. Operation Liftoff provides children with advanced illness three types of trips: "dream trips" for children and their families, "care trips" for medical treatment in other regions, and "group trips" to help teenagers with advanced illnesses leave the hospital and bond with peers. Parents and caregivers complete a form to request a trip.

The Rainbow Connection. This organization helps grant wishes to children from Michigan facing an advanced illness. To qualify, children must be between two and a half and 18 years old, live in Michigan, be diagnosed with an advanced illness, and have the diagnosis verified by a physician. In addition, they must not have received a wish fulfillment from any other organization. Medical professionals, parents or guardians, and children may submit wish requests.

A Special Wish Foundation. This foundation grants wishes for infants, children, and young adults younger than 21 years old who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Wishes fall into three categories, including "a special gift," "a special place," or "a special hero."

Sunshine Foundation. This foundation is committed to fulfilling the dreams of children three to 18 years old who have advanced cancer or special needs and those who have faced abuse.

Wishing Star. This charity grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses who are between three and 21 years old and live in Eastern and Central Washington and Idaho. Children do not have to be terminally ill to qualify.

Wishing Well Foundation USA. This New Orleans-based organization is committed to granting wishes for children with advanced illness. Children younger than 18 years old are eligible to apply.

Wish fulfillment organizations for adults

Compassion Partners. This Disney program provides children and adults free passes to several theme parks in Florida, including Disney theme parks, Sea World, Universal Studios Orlando, and Busch Gardens. Passes are available by calling 407-396-6065 or 407-828-2298.

Deliver the Dream. This organization provides families living with an advanced illness—whether the illness involves a child or a parent—the chance to relax, enjoy time together, and forge bonds with others during a three-day retreat. Health care providers or one of Deliver the Dream's partnering organizations are responsible for recruiting the family for participation.

Dream Foundation. The Dream Foundation fulfills the wishes of adults suffering from advanced illnesses. The foundation seeks to help adults find peace and closure with the realization of a final wish. Dream Foundation grants requests to adults older than 18 years old whose life expectancy, confirmed by their physicians, is one year or less. They must also confirm that they have limited resources.

Granted Wish Foundation. The Granted Wish Foundation fulfills wishes for “disabled, disadvantaged, and deserving individuals and families” and works with people of all ages. In addition, the foundation has a special program that provides luxury air transportation for children with advanced illness and their families to travel to receive life-saving treatment.

Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation. Making Memories grants wishes for patients with metastatic breast cancer, while raising awareness about the disease. People with advanced breast cancer or their friends and family members can submit wish requests.

Never Too Late. This organization helps make wishes and dreams come true for people age 65 and older with advanced illness, aiming to honor the lives they have lived. The organization requests some financial support from family members to fulfill wish requests.

Reeling and Healing Midwest. Reeling and Healing Midwest offers fly-fishing wellness retreats for men and women with cancer. The organization seeks to help renew participants' spirits and hopes through fly-fishing, nature, peer coaching, and peer bonding. People older than age18 are eligible to apply and are responsible for paying a registration fee and a daily fee.

Second Wind Dreams. This international fulfillment organization works to enhance the life of those living in elder care communities—such as nursing, assisted living, and hospice facilities—by granting wishes. The organization grants relationship-based dreams, needs-based dreams, lifelong dreams, and “I don't want to grow up” dreams, among others.

United Special Sportsman Alliance. This wish-granting organization specializes in providing children and adults with disabilities or advanced illness an outdoor adventure of their dreams. Trips include hunting, fishing, water sports, and other activities.

The Warrior's Wish Foundation. This charity grants wishes for U.S. military veterans with advanced illness and their families. Gifts range from hearing aids and scooter chairs to family vacations and trips to attend reunions. The application requires a current photograph, a description of the wish, and an explanation of why it's meaningful.

More Information

Preparation at the End of Life

Caring for a Terminally Ill Child: A Guide for Parents

Advanced Cancer Care Planning

Camps and Retreats for Families and Children Touched by Cancer

Last Updated: May 09, 2011

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