Butler University students have teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to better the life of a 6-year-old girl named Emily by attempting to raise $6,000 to grant her wish: to go skiing with her family in Colorado.
Butler’s involvement with Emily all started with senior Alicia Dixon and junior Rachel Gold, who founded Butler’s Wishmakers on Campus program in 2010. Both hope to get Butler students interested and participating in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dixon said she decided to get Butler involved with Make-A-Wish last year after talking to a friend from Indiana State University who was a part of the organization.
She said she researched ways to get involved online and ultimately found Wishmakers on Campus to be what she was looking for.
Wishmakers on Campus is a national program for college campuses that allows students to support the foundation.
“We tried first to just feel out if people would even be interested in helping the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Dixon said. “The response we got in return was overwhelming.”
Once they knew there was student interest and the Wishmakers program was established, the next step was finding a wish child for Butler.
Dixon said she and Gold met with a local Indiana representative for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and he set them up with Emily.
Emily is from Carmel, Ind., and she has been diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy.
“Mitochondrial myopathy affects the mitochondria in Emily’s cells,” Gold said. “Mainly, it affects her energy level and it makes her more prone to get sick easily.
“Potentially she could die from this, but she could also live for a while, it just kind of depends on how healthy she stays. If she were to get sick with something that could compromise her situation.”
To raise money for Emily’s wish, Butler’s Wishmakers on Campus has been selling “Make-A-Wish” stars around Butler for $1 and hosting events like “Wishmakers on the Mall” that took place Sept. 16.
At the Wishmakers event last week, members of Wishmakers on Campus were able to actually meet Emily and her family in person for the first time.
Dixon and Gold both said that being face-to-face with Emily made them feel all the more driven to raise the $6,000 to send her and her family to Colorado.
“It was such a great experience to meet Emily. I’ll never forget it,” Dixon said. “Her mom called me that morning just to get us prepared. She said, ‘Emily is six. She’s just like any other six year old. She doesn’t have any concept of what a terminal illness is. She doesn’t have any concept of the fact that 4,000 students at Butler want to help her.’
“It was great to see how excited she was to just be having a good time and hanging out with a bunch of college kids. It brings me to tears thinking about what an impact we’re having on a little girl’s life and on her family’s life.”
Emily’s mother, Beth, said she and her family were incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support they received from Butler students on Thursday.
“The fact that students were giving so much of their time for this cause when they already have a pretty full docket of their own is really touching,” Beth said. “It’s tough, because you can never really say thank you enough, but being [at Butler] and seeing everything that’s gone into it is very humbling.”
She said that while skiing may seem like a simple wish to some people, it is the ultimate freedom for Emily.
Emily tends to be restricted in her day-to-day life, she said, and skiing is one of the rare activities where she has the opportunity to truly let go and enjoy herself without having to worry about the impact of doing it.
After the success of Thursday’s event, Dixon and Gold said they are excited to plan more fundraisers to help Emily’s cause.
“We’re trying to really hit as many different social groups and academic groups as we can,” Dixon said. “We don’t just want to reach out to Greek Life. We really want to get freshmen and the rest of campus involved with this as well.
“We’re hoping to sell T-shirts, and we want to have a silent auction for faculty, staff and alumni.
“We’re trying to raise the $6,000 ideally by January. The Make-A-Wish Foundation will front any money that we don’t have raised by then, but inevitably it is up to us to come up with the money to pay for her wish.”
Gold said they are blown away by the all the initial support they’ve received. She said she is extremely passionate about the cause and really hopes to see Wishmakers on Campus continue to gain awareness so that, over time, more deserving children, like Emily, can live out their greatest wishes.
“One thing that has been overwhelming is the amount of outside support we’ve received,” Dixon said. “It’s been unimaginable.”