Granting wishes to sick children
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Granting wishes to sick children

Make-A-Wish Israel's CEO Denise Bar Aharon visited Australia last month to promote an Israel-Australia shared appeal that's helping children battling life-threatening illnesses.

Make-A-Wish Israel CEO Denise Bar-Aharon speaks to students at The King David School last month.
Make-A-Wish Israel CEO Denise Bar-Aharon speaks to students at The King David School last month.

WHEN Denise Bar-Aharon’s brother passed away from oesophageal cancer at the age of 29, she knew that she must take action – “to do something in his name”.

Bar-Aharon and her husband began their research as to how they would honour his memory.

“Why don’t we bring Make-A-Wish to Israel?”

Determination propelled Bar-Aharon, and 20 years ago, she leapt from a career in fashion into the world of philanthropy.

She became the founder and CEO of Make-A-Wish Israel, and last month visited Australia to share her message of giving, highlighting the Make-A-Wish Australia and Make-A-Wish Israel Shared Appeal.

The collaboration began two years ago and helps make wishes come true for children battling life-threatening conditions in both Australia and Israel. All donations are shared equally between the two countries.

During her visit to Melbourne, Bar-Aharon spoke at several engagements and facilitated Wish Design Workshops at The King David School, Mount Scopus and Yavneh College. The students designed wishes for four current wish children – two from Israel, and two from Australia.

“There’s nothing like giving,” Bar-Aharon told The AJN.

Chris was 18 when he received his wish after battling metastatic thymic carcinoma.

The young Israeli dreamt about visiting New York with his family to see the Empire State Building.

“I will never forget this experience. My wish gave me the strength to keep fighting and winning,” he reflected.

The far-reaching psychological and physical power of a wish is something that has been proven in a Wish Impact study conducted by Dr Tal Ben Shahar and Dr Anat Shoshani from the Mativ Centre at IDC University.

“The process of wish fulfilment creates hope for these children, which is extremely important for the recovery and healing process,” said Bar-Aharon.

“The child feels that if they can make the impossible, possible, and meet Justin Bieber, then I can make my disease go away.”

Indeed, Justin Bieber is just one of the mega celebrities with whom Bar-Aharon’s team have worked. Others have included football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, former US President Bill Clinton, and singers Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake – who Bar-Aharon remembered was particularly “remarkable with a child”.

“Wishes are transformational, they are not just gifts.” Bar-Aharon enthused. “The doctors give the medicine. We give the magic.”

For more information visit www.makeawish.org.au/shared-appeal or contact Make-A-Wish Philanthropy coordinator Sarah Singer on 0458 133 280.

REBECCA DAVIS

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