MILWAUKEE -- Make-A-Wish Wisconsin helps create life-changing experiences for kids in desperate need of a pick-me-up -- and they're making a difference in the lives of critically ill children. On Saturday, the organization held its annual Big Bash for Kids at Whitnall High School.
"I think it helps them understand giving back to other kids," said Angela Jones.
The festival raises funds to make wishes come true for local children with a critical illness.
"They range in anything from different diseases or cancers to anything from neurological conditions," said Brian Kleist, a Make-A-Wish volunteer.
Olivia Nelson is all too familiar with the tough times caused by an illness.
"I have a muscle disease, a mitochondrial disease," said Nelson.
As a past wish recipient, Nelson knows the toll certain disorders can take on the patient and their family. She applauds Make-A-Wish for their admirable, charitable efforts.
"It's a community that is really supportive," said Olivia Nelson, a past Make-A-Wish recipient.
Volunteer Brian Kleist says wishes can be an escape, and so much more.
"To have a time where they can go out and not think about what's going on in their life, and really lose themselves in their wish -- it's a fantastic thing," said Kleist. "It really does help from a medical standpoint as well -- to help their healing process and improve their chances of beating whatever they are facing."
The wishes give strength during the patients' battles, while also brightening their spirits and creating memories.
"I think it gives them hope, especially when they spend a lot of their time in the hospital," said Jones. "To have that to look forward to really helps them to stay strong through a lot of the procedures and scary stuff they have to go through."
Proceeds from the Big Bash will help grant about 45 wishes, which are extremely important. This year in Wisconsin, the organization plans to grant about 400 wishes -- and every event counts. If you would like to make a donation to Make-A-Wish, click HERE.