Little wishes make big difference

A Butler University freshman helps brighten children’s cancer battles by granting their wishes to take their minds off illnesses for a little while.

Elizabeth Niemiec started the Little Wish Foundation when she was 17 years old.

Since then, she and the organization have since granted 145 little wishes.

Niemiec was inspired to start the foundation when a close family friend named Max died from cancer.

Max wanted to get a dog—a wish that sparked Niemiec’s idea for the foundation.

“I saw what a huge impact that little wish made in his life,” Niemiec said. “That made me want to do that for other kids with cancer.”

The foundation started at Memorial Children’s Hospital of South Bend and expanded to Riley Hospital for Children and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.

The foundation originally sold silicon bracelets and raised funds. The first fundraiser, which included an auction, raffle and live band performance, raised $11,000.

Students living in Residential College will soon be involved in the Little Wish Foundation.

Resident assistant Emily Welch plans to have students who reside in ResCo help package wishes and write letters for the recipients.

“I thought that this would be a really inspiring organization and something that students would really want to get involved with,”  Welch said.

This is not the only way the foundation was introduced at Butler.

Niemiec also talked to an upper level arts administration class about the Little Wish Foundation.

The foundation is also impactful from a learning standpoint.

Stephanie Fernhaber, assistant professor of management, said real business experience in the College of Business,  and actually starting up a business further engages students.

“When I look at this Little Wish Foundation, I think about how impactful it’s been but also how much she has gotten to learn from this experience,” Fernhaber said.

Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator, said the Butler community of care is about taking care of yourself and also taking care of others. Diaz said the Little Wish Foundation connects to the community of care in this way.

“I think it’s really great that she’s passionate about something and then being proactive,” said Danielle McCormick, president of Peers Advocating Wellness for Students.

Niemiec said she thinks the Little Wish Foundation helped her become more aware of issues and step out of her comfort zone at college.

Even though it did not start at Butler, the foundation  shows what Butler is all about in a special way.

For more information on the foundation, visit