ROCHESTER – Since its inception in 1985, Rochester based charity organization Rainbow Connection has made wishes come true for thousands of children with life threatening medical conditions in Michigan.
The charity began when Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson organized a memorial golf outing to raise scholarship funds in honor of victims of a tragic plane crash.
The organization has since ballooned out into a state-wide charity that grants wishes to between 150 and 160 children a year. It has helped over 3500 children in this time and has received a four star rating by Charity Navigator.
35 percent of all wishes granted are to children in Wayne County. The organization is currently working on 6 wishes for children that reside in Dearborn and has granted over 100 wishes to children in Dearborn.
Wish children may request to visit a location, meet a celebrity or personal hero or receive a gift or item. Rainbow Connection’s team comes up with ways to fulfill these wishes in a special and personalized way.
Each wish can cost on average $5000.
“We are so proud of the fact that we support the Wish Families before, during and after their wish,” Ingrid Todt, Wish Director said. “One prime example of that continued relationship is the Scholarship Program – this year we awarded 25 scholarships to past wish recipients. We will continue to do anything we can to support our Wish Families.”
“I have personally been working for The Rainbow Connection for 19 years and I could never imagine doing anything else. It is quite easy to do what you love,” she said.
The organization recently held a scholarship breakfast to award $1000 scholarships to the award winners at the Dearborn Country Club. These were wish recipients who had now successfully completed treatment for their life-threatening diseases and were on their way to pursue college degrees.
WXYZ-TV News Anchor Dave LewAllen was at the event. He is Past President of the Board of Directors and a long-time volunteer.
LewAllen told The Arab American News of the importance of the organization’s work, serving many children in the Wayne County and South East Michigan area.
“What’s incredible and unique about this organization is that we’ve never made a child wait,” he said. “Typically, a child is referred to us by social workers at the hospital where they are receiving care. Our Wish department meets with the family, and if they have not been granted a wish before, we begin the process.
“Depending on where the child is in the process of dealing with their condition, they go where they wish, whether it be visiting a special location, meeting a celebrity or someone special, or to go on a shopping trip. You name it, we have granted it over the years. When they are ready, we move heaven and earth to accommodate their wish.”
The child’s family is invited to travel and participate in the wish as well. Disney World is a popular destination for Wish children and their families. Rainbow Connection will often partner with Give Kids the World, a Disney program that helps wish-granting organizations.
Rainbow Connections has also sent children and their families to many international destinations.
“What makes us different is that we actively stay in touch with our Wish Families, who become part of our family and join us in our many events each year,” LewAllen said.
Since so much of Rainbow Connection’s work is in Detroit and Wayne County, the organization is actively looking for donations and sponsorship from the area, which includes Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
It encourages Dearborn and Dearborn Heights residents to reach out and help.
Information about donations, sponsorship and volunteering opportunities can be sought from Ingrid Todt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by visiting the organizations website: www.rainbowconnection.org