Donna Serr has first hand knowledge of the depth of joy that granting a child’s wish can bring. Her daughter Melanie was the recipient of a wish at age 16.
“Seeing Melanie’s joy, I decided there and then that I wanted to give back to Children’s Wish any way I could,” says Donna. “But I had to wait. It wasn’t the right time; my first priority was taking care of my daughter.”
Melanie was diagnosed with brain cancer at 16. Surgery forced her to cancel a previously planned dream trip to Italy through a Rotary Club summer exchange program. When Children’s Wish sent her to Rome, Italy some months later, Melanie was ecstatic.
“Her dream was alive again, and for a whole week our burdens were lifted,” Donna recalls. “Children’s Wish gave us wonderful memories that we will always be able to hold onto as a family.”
In time, Melanie’s health stabilized, and she eventually met and married a wonderful man and started a family. Donna felt that the time was right to step up her involvement with Children’s Wish.
Donna is unstoppable. Since she became sub-chapter chair for Medicine Hat, Alberta, revenue and brand awareness have mushroomed. Donna is often found speaking at schools, at media engagements, arranging and supporting community events and actively fundraising on behalf of Children’s Wish. She has helped raise over $300,000 and attracted numerous supporters.
Most rewarding to Donna is meeting the children and their families. “I love playing a role in making their wishes come true,” she says. “And I love being able to share with them that I know what it’s like to be a Children’s Wish family.”
When Melanie became pregnant with her third child her tumour began to grow again. In February 2009, two months after giving birth to a little girl, Melanie passed away.
“Melanie’s legacy is her three little beautiful children,” says Donna. “Children’s Wish is also part of her legacy. Every time I think of her wish and the joy it brought her, I want to continue to bring that joy to other children. Seeing the happiness, the joy, the smiles is a blessing.”
Donna is particularly passionate about a school-based initiative, surrounding Wishmaker Walk for Wishes, because of its focus on children helping children. She recently spoke at a participating school and met a current wish child: a five year-old kindergarten student, who has an inoperable brain tumour. Her wish was to meet real live princesses at Disneyland. Donna asked, “Any particular princess?” She looked back at Donna with big wide eyes full of wonder. “All of them of course!” she said.
“That is my passion,” says Donna. “To make it possible for precious children like this little five year-old to have their heart’s desire. There really is nothing like it.
“Children’s Wish changes children’s lives -- and volunteering for with them can change yours.”