New Brunswick

Children's Wish Foundation expands reach to grant more wishes

The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada has expanded its criteria to allow more children to have their wishes granted.

Children with severe neurological, genetic disorders now eligible to have wishes granted by foundation

Gerry Beresford, pictured here at last week's Wish Foundation gala, says the organization is already seeing an increase in the number of wish requests since it changed its rules of eligibility. (Facebook)

The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada has expanded its criteria to allow more children to have their wishes granted.

The organization is widening its scope beyond children who have life-threatening illnesses, to include those with serious genetic and neurological diagnoses.

Children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, severe Crohn's disease and severe rheumatoid arthritis will now be able to submit wish requests.

"Some of these children have severe speech or other communication disorders, eating challenges, sensory impairments, learning disabilities and severe delays in the various aspects of their development," said Gerry Beresford, the New Brunswick chapter director for the Children's Wish Foundation.

These conditions represent an emerging population who may not have survived if it wasn't for the advancements in medicine in the last two decades.

Their quality of life is challenged daily, said Beresford.

"If it wasn't for their caregivers, the parents, if they didn't have that, their chances of survival wouldn't be there," he said.

The foundation anticipates a 20-per-cent annual increase in wish requests now that it has expanded its reach.

The New Brunswick chapter grants 45 wishes on average every year — Beresford says the uptick in requests will likely put them over 50 wishes, which would be a record.

Each wish costs $10,000 on average, and usually takes the entire family into account.

"If you come from a family of more than one child, when all the focus is on one child, I don't care who that child is, you're going to feel somewhat left out because parents are dedicated to helping this other child [with medical needs]," Beresford said.

"We say the family gets to be a family again and do things that aren't focused on hospital visits and treatment."

The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada has granted over 22,000 wishes in the country since its first wish 30 years ago, and over 850 wishes in New Brunswick.

The national campaign aims to raise $10 million by 2021.

The New Brunswick chapter launched its latest fundraising campaign, More Wishes, More Wonders, on Thursday.

The group is still searching for a campaign chair.


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