Make-A-Wish kid gets the royal treatment she deserves

Childrenís Hospital Medical Center contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation last February to inform them that a member of the Royal Family was suffering from cancer. This young girl, named Melissa Miniard, was truly a princess.

Make-A-Wish volunteers visited 7-year-old Melissa at her home and were immediately taken by this cheerful, talkative young girl with a head full of blonde curls. They discovered that she is a budding artist whose talents include drawing and painting. (Melissaís style is distinguished by her ample use of the color yellow.) As with so many girls her age, the volunteers found that Melissaís favorite toy is Barbie and that she likes to refine her rollerblading skills when playing outdoors.

After talking with Melissa during their visit, the Make-A-Wish volunteers had no doubt in their minds that she had her heart set on traveling to Disney World and meeting all of the characters that she knew from TV.

In the meantime, plans were made for Melissa to serve as the guest of honor at the 8th annual in Memory of Maria Olberding. Princess Melissa wore an elegant white gown and a bejeweled tiara to the event. At the beginning of the 5-kilometer race, she stood atop a Cincinnati fire truck and pulled the trigger on the starterís pistol. Like any well-groomed member of a royal family, Melissa greeted all of the runners and walkers with a graceful wave and a smile.

After performing her official duties at the race, Melissa went to the reggae party and sampled a wide variety of foods. After awhile, the little princess was escorted to Ault Park Pavilion where she was met with an enchanting surprise. Her fairy godmother serenaded her with "When You Wish Upon a Star." Then, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs bestowed upon her various gifts, including a wish packet that contained everything necessary to send her and her family to Disney World.

Shortly afterwards, the stunned but elated princess kissed her fairy godmother good-bye, gathered up her gifts and returned home to await her magical trip.

More wishes come true

In addition to Melissa Miniard - the "princess" who served as the official starter of the 2001 Reggae Run - many other children with life-threatening medical conditions have been helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation with funds raised by the Reggae Run. Here are a few more stories of these special kids.

Tawni gets NíSync

Tawni is an 11-year-old who loves to listen and dance to music. Her favorite group is NíSync, so Make-A-Wish volunteers were not surprised that her wish was to meet this popular "boy band."

During the week of Tawniís wish, Make-A-Wish volunteers arranged for her to be picked up and taken to a salon where she had her nails done especially for the big day. The next day, Tawni was treated to a party with her classmates. There was a DJ, dancing, pizza, presents and a cake. The room had been decorated with NíSync posters, a hundred balloons and a beautiful cake.

On the day of her wish, Tawni and her family were picked up by limousine and taken to the mall to pick up an outfit donated by Limited Too. After that, they went out to eat and then to the sold-out NíSync concert. "I loved meeting NíSync," said Tawni. "They were sooooo cool."


Krystal cruises with her favorite reverend

Krystal is a 14-year-old girl that believes in the power of a wish and in the power of Jesse Duplantisí Ministries. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 3, Krystal did not hesitate when asked what her wish would be. "Jesse Duplantis!" she screamed.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation surprised Krystal by booking her and her grandmother on the "Inspiration Cruise" - a cruise to the Bahamas on which Reverend Duplantis preached every day. Krystal was able to meet Reverend Duplantis, his wife and daughter, and another one of her favorite reverends.

Krystal experienced a number of other "firsts" on her trip: seeing the Bahamas, meeting the captain of a cruise ship and eating caviar. There were so many firsts that she began to lose track of them!

Krystal came home with many photos to remind her of her trip. She wrote, "Thank-you for a wish of a lifetime!"

Austin dreams of dolphins

Austin is a 6-year-old boy with Long QT Syndrome who had just one dream: to swim with dolphins. Unfortunately, his syndrome is a disorder of the heartís electrical system, which prevents him from swimming.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Ohio was determined to find a way to give Austin the experience of dolphins without getting wet. Ultimately, Austinís dream was made reality with help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central Florida.

Austin traveled to Florida for a special tour of Sea World and a training session in which he pet and fed dolphins. As a bonus, he and his family were treated to a day at Walt

Disneyís Animal Kingdom, where the "Bugís Life" ride was his favorite. They also went to Universal Studios, where Austin was treated to a green "sliming."



"Army Men" help Make-A-Wish kid start 2000

Make-A-Wish kid Brandon Harker and his sister, Melanie, wave from atop a Humvee to Reggae Run participants as Sergeant Frese of the Ohio National Guard looks on.

Brandon Harker is an 8-year-old with a passion for "Army trucks" and "Army men." That’s why he was so thrilled to sit atop a Humvee with Ohio National Guard members as he fired the starting pistol for the 2000 Reggae Run.

On the day before the Reggae Run, Guard members delivered a camouflage uniform to Brandon so that he would look like a proper "Army man." On race day, Brandon was wearing the uniform when a limousine arrived to transport him and his family to the entrance of Ault Park. Once there, he proudly rode in a Humvee to Ault Park Pavilion – near the start of the 5-kilometer race.

After admirably performing his duty as official race starter, Brandon was free to have some fun. He and his family ate to their heart’s content and danced the night away to reggae music. He even had his face painted by the National Guard.

Brandon was referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation with Burkitts Lymphoma, a form of cancer. When Make-A-Wish volunteers first met Brandon, they found he had many interests, but his ultimate wish was to go to Disney World. Shortly before the Reggae Run, Brandon and his family were whisked to Florida in grand style. They stayed at the Give Kids the World Village, went to the four Disney theme parks, visited Sea World and were spoiled beyond belief. The family even went deep-sea fishing, and Brandon caught the biggest fish of all!

Like Brandon, many other children with life-threatening medical conditions will have their wishes granted with funds raised from the Reggae Run. This year, the Reggae Run will donate more than $35,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Southern Ohio office to make the lives of these children a little brighter. – Tracy Beckman of Make-A-Wish

More dreams come true

In addition to Brandon Harker – the official starter of the Reggae Run – many other children with life-threatening medical conditions have seen their wishes become a reality, thanks to funds raised by the Reggae Run for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Here are a few more stories of Make-A-Wish kids.

Storm and his Nintendo adventure

When Make-A-Wish volunteers first met with 4-year-old Storm to find out what his wish would be, it was all they could do to pull him away from his "Zelda" Nintendo game. When his mother insisted that he turn off the game, he emphatically informed everyone that his wish was to be the character "Link" from the Nintendo game.

Knowing that Make-A-Wish would have a hard time turning Storm into Link, a compromise was struck. Storm would be the first person to play the new Zelda Nintendo game – before it was released to the public.

Storm and his family were flown to Seattle and given a tour of Nintendo headquarters. The Zelda programmer answered all of Storm’s questions, and the CEO presented him with his very own Zelda game. Storm even had a private room where he could try out the game. In addition to touring Nintendo, he and his family visited other attractions during their week in Seattle, including the Space Needle and Gameworks.

– Tracy Beckman of Make-A-Wish

A computer for Corey

Corey is all-smiles as he plays with the steering wheel on his new computer.

Corey is a 9-year-old boy diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. In deciding what his wish would be, Corey was torn between a computer and meeting Brittney Spears. After great contemplation, he decided on a computer . . . and a computer it was. A secret arrangement was made so that a computer was awaiting Corey when he arrived home from school one day. Not only was there a computer with a steering wheel and foot pedals but also a desk, a printer, a scanner, and lots and lots of games – plus a house full of family and friends to help celebrate. To top it off, the screen saver was pictures of the one and only Brittney Spears. Corey was speechless.

– Charlaine Craig of Make-A-Wish



Sarah gets "slimed"

Sarah is an 11-year-old girl from Kentucky diagnosed with a brain tumor. When asked for her wish, Sarah said, "Disney World, so I can go to Nickelodeon Studios and get slimed."

Sarah enjoyed the wonderful world of Disney, but she anxiously awaited her day to get all ooey and gooey. When the day finally arrived, she first received a tour of the Nickelodeon Studios and then she was prepared for the cold, icky, green substance called "the slime" to be poured on her. And who better to do the "sliming" than her sister!

After Sarah got cleaned up, she and her family were able to sit in the audience during a taping of the Nickelodeon show. What a way to end a "slime"! – Charlaine Craig of Make-A-Wish


Make-A-Wish kid starts the 1999 with a bang

Jodie Gettlefinger had the time of her life at the 6th Annual Reggae Run. She was the girl who started the race by firing a gun from atop a fire engine.

Jodie appears to be a normal, healthy 9-year-old girl. Unfortunately, she was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means that only two of the four chambers of her heart are functioning. She had a surgical procedure soon after birth and is currently the longest living child in Cincinnati who has had this surgery. A sports fanatic, Jodie was disappointed last year when doctors told her that she had to stop playing soccer and basketball.

Jodie was referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in May 1999. She and many other children with life-threatening medical conditions in southern Ohio will have their wishes granted by Make-A-Wish with money raised from the Reggae Run in Memory of Maria Olberding.

After much thought about her wish, Jodie decided that she wanted a swimming pool. Swimming is one physical activity she can still do, and she hoped that other children would want to come to her house to swim.

Jodie received her pool on September 23. She was also given pool toys and season basketball tickets to her favorite team -- the Xavier University Musketeers.

In addition, Jodie was asked to be the official starter of the 1999 Reggae Run. On the day of the race, Jodie and her family were amazed when a limousine arrived at their house. Also to their surprise, the limousine driver handed them an invitation from Skip Prosser, Xavier’s basketball coach, for snacks before the race. Afterwards Coach Prosser accompanied Jodie and her family to the Reggae Run.

Once they arrived at Ault Park, Jodie was escorted to the starting line where Hyde Park fire fighters helped her to the top of a fire engine. On the count of three, she pulled the trigger to set off thousands of runners and walkers. Then, grinning from ear to ear, Jodie rode on the fire engine to the finish line and played with all of the sirens and horns.

At the finish line, Jodie watched for her older sister and brother who were participating in the race. After most of the runners had finished, she asked if she could meet and thank Don and Irma Olberding -- Maria’s parents -- for helping to grant her wish. Then Jodie finished her big night with a little dancing to reggae music.

sponsors its first Make-A-Wish child

In 1997, six-year-old Chris Hunter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was amidst monitors, tangled tubing and syringes that Chris was referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

When Ken Schuermann first visited the Hunter home, this newly trained Make-A-Wish volunteer expected to find a sick and extremely fragile six-year-old. Instead, Ken was greeted by a grinning, energetic and outgoing young man.     During his visits, Ken discovered Chris’s ability to compete with the most skilled of computer-game players as well as his passion for swimming, boating and fishing. Ken soon learned that Chris’s wish was to go deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys with his mom, his best friend Darius and Darius’s mom.

This wish soon will become a reality, thanks to the 5th Annual Reggae Run in Memory of Maria Olberding.

As a prelude to his wish, Chris was invited to the Reggae Run on October 2. In typical Make-A-Wish fashion, Chris, his mom and their friends were driven to Ault Park in a limousine escorted by two Cincinnati police motorcycles.

At the park, Chris sat on one of the police motorcycles, revved the engine and talked over its loudspeaker. Also, he was the one who pulled the trigger on a starter pistol from atop a Cincinnati fire truck to set off the thousands of runners and walkers. He said, "I can’t believe all these people are helping me get my wish."

In late November, Chris, his mom and their friends will travel to the Florida Keys where they will sail, snorkel, swim with dolphins and, of course, take that fishing trip which Chris has always dreamed about.

The dreams of Chris Hunter and other children with life-threatening medical conditions in the Greater Cincinnati Area will be fulfilled by Make-A-Wish with the $40,000 raised by the 5th Annual Reggae Run.



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Stories From the Kids} {More Dreams Come True}
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Race Course} {Map to the Race}