(WJHL) – Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee has more than 120 families on its waitlist, and the non-profit organization hopes to grant close to 100 of those wishes soon with the help of an upcoming telethon.
News Channel 11 and Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee are partnering to host the telethon Thursday, starting at 6 a.m. The telethon will help raise the funds to grant wishes to local children like 12-year-old EllaRey.
Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee granted EllaRey’s wish by sending her and her family to the Give Kids the World Village in Florida.
“Her wish was to see Peppa Pig, so we went to Peppa Pig Land,” said Tracy Arnold, EllaRey’s mother.
Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee took care of the costs and handled all the worries Arnold had attached to making the trip.
“Lots of families just can’t afford to go on a vacation like that,” Arnold said. “Even if we can, it’s not something that is accessible to a child-like EllaRey, as far as the wheelchair and motels and all those accommodations. All of that was worked out for us through Make-a-Wish.”
While at the park, precious memories took shape for EllaRey.
“When we first got to Give Kids the World Village, she got on one of their little rides that’s wheelchair-friendly,” Arnold said. “It tethers the wheelchair down in the ride, and she was so excited.”
Arnold told News Channel 11 that the memories of the trip help EllaRey in her learning and day-to-day skills.
“Those pictures have been huge,” Arnold said. “She takes them to school, and it’s really helped her with speech and being able to engage with somebody else because she hands them the picture and they want to talk to her about it.
“She was so happy, she loved that trip.”
Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee accepts donations year-round to help make the dreams of children come true. To learn how to help children like EllaRey, visit the non-profit’s website and tune into News Channel 11 on Thursday.