Sunny Star: Shelby Kwait

Tonight is a very special night. Chi Omega will be sponsoring the wish of Jaden, a five year old battling lymphatic leukemia. But that’s not what tonight is about; no sickness, no troubles. Tonight is about making Jaden happy. And we’re going to do that by dressing up as dinosaurs and playing dino tag with him since he’s such an avid fan of them. Jaden got his wish to have a dinosaur playground but of course, the Make a Wish Foundation doesn’t stop there! Tonight we will be presenting his wish at the Americana and we couldn’t be happier. There is one particular person who will be very happy tonight.
Shelby Kwait has worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for years. An organization that is very near and dear to her heart, she has served as the President of her high school Make-A-Wish club and she is now the philanthropy chair of Chi Omega. She is one of the kindest, funniest, and friendliest people I know and I’m so glad that you’ll now have the opportunity to hear her story.
1. How has your experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation affected your happiness?
My experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation doesn’t just affect my happiness in a small way, it has been a huge part of my life and over the years I have gotten to know some of the wish families personally. Knowing that I am helping to grant wishes of these amazing children and trying my hardest to contribute to a child’s happiness makes me happy.
2. What has been your happiest memory with this program?
It is hard to pin point my favorite memory with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Every experience I have with this organization is my favorite. I know that might be cliché to say but I truly mean it. The people who work for the foundation to the families that experience getting a wish are just incredible people.
3. What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge, that’s a tough question. Cancer does not discriminate; it doesn’t matter what age, race, or ethnicity you are. These kids are struck with an illness that some of them cannot beat. The biggest challenge is when a child’s life is taken away from them. The Make-A-Wish Foundation leaves the family with one last incredible memory, which is the biggest blessing a family could ask for. But it is extremely hard for me when a child’s life is taken away from them; it’s just not fair.
4. How does granting wishes affect the children’s happiness?
Granting wishes to these children provides happiness for themselves and their families by taking these children out of their pain and bringing them joy. These family’s lives are changed in a matter of seconds when finding out that their child is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Life soon becomes filled with doctor’s appointments, fear, and a loss of hope. The Make-A-Wish foundation brings that hope, strength, and joy back in to each family. It not only affects the children’s happiness but their families too. Presents are not only given to the wish child but their siblings also. No one is left out of the wish process. Families can be brought back together and share the happiness and the power of a wish.
5. How do you think a child can still be happy while enduring a life threatening disease?
Make-A-Wish gives the child the opportunity to forget about his/her illness. They are able to give the child back what the illness took away, their childhood. Children are open and honest little humans, they are expressive and tell you when they are sad and in pain. I don’t think that children can necessarily be happy when they endure a life threatening illness but I think the Make-A-Wish foundation can make the best out of an unfortunate situation.
Keep shining,
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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