Paying it forward may well become a lifelong philosophy for the Sesto family, the energetic force behind October’s drive to help make a sick child’s Wish become a reality. Last year, the Sestos (Michael, Lisa, Logan and Gabriel) set their Make-A-Wish fundraising goal at $7,500, but thanks to the generosity of the community and district schools, more than $8,000 was raised to fulfill a sick child’s wish. This year’s goal has been set at $4,000.
The Sestos know firsthand the lasting impact a single wish-come-true can have. In 2015, Logan, a “Wish kid” himself, enjoyed a week-long vacation in San Diego with his family, playing in the warm sands and cold Pacific waves, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The trip to the coast, now a distant but treasured memory, is one so special that the family has decided to help make another child’s wish become a reality again this year, with the help of area schools selling Make-A-Wish stars for $1 each.
So far participating schools include Coarsegold Elementary, Yosemite High, Oak Creek Intermediate, Oakhurst Elementary, Spring Valley Elementary, North Fork Elementary, Wasuma, and Rivergold (which will make a monetary donation).
Melinda Grisham, a leadership instructor and fifth-grade teacher at Coarsegold Elementary has been instrumental in getting other Mountain Area schools involved in this special fundraising campaign.
“K-Kids is the elementary school version of the Kiwanis,” Grisham explained. “Each month our K-Kids have some sort of community service project - whether it’s cleaning up around campus, running a blood or food drive, or raising money. So we decided to make October Make-A-Wish month. What makes this so special is that it’s led by kids ... They see Logan on campus, they interact with him, and it has much more meaning and value to them than a global fundraiser.”
A Coarsegold Elementary first-grader, 6-year-old Logan has Transverse Myelitis (TM), a cousin to Multiple Sclerosis. Because he was a meth baby, Logan was placed in foster care shortly after birth. He was soon returned to his birth mother, but when he was just five months of age, he developed a non-traumatic spinal cord injury (TM), and was again placed in foster care.
While his beginning was rocky, there’s a happy ending. Just two short months later, Logan and his natural brother, Gabriel (now 7), were taken in by the Sestos, who adopted the boys a year later.
Because of the hope and joy these wishes produce for children and families at a time they need it most, Lisa invites the community to “support Logan in this important goal by visiting his fundraising page and making a contribution. Your tax deductible gift makes a difference to the thousands of eligible children waiting for their wish experience. Whatever you can give will help - it all adds up.”
Grisham takes it a step farther, tossing out a challenge to area businesses.
“If you have a child at Coarsegold Elementary, Spring Valley, or any of the other schools (and even if you don’t), partner with that school and promise to match whatever that school raises,” Grisham said. “Logan is one of the most charismatic, loving, outgoing kids I’ve ever met. He gets so excited when another student comes up and shows him the Make-A-Wish star they just bought.”
The Central California Make-A-Wish chapter was founded in 1986, and has granted more than 1,800 wishes to children in the eight counties it serves, including Madera. Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children suffering with life-threatening medical conditions. According to their website, every 38 minutes, a child receives a wish experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives, an experience that, more than often than not, becomes a real game-changer.
“We are not only proud of Logan but all the students in the mountains,” Lisa said. “It takes on a whole different meaning when other children are involved ... when they are able to recognize that a Wish for a child is not just a Wish, but something that distracts from all the medical issues, appointments and such that these kids have to endure.”
“As long as the schools want to keep this going, so will we,” Lisa continued. “ I would love to see it happen every year to bring compassion and awareness to all students.”
Grisham is on board with that, and said that as long as she’s involved, Make-A-Wish will continue to be the fundraiser for October, adding, “this is a great way for our kids to connect with something bigger than themselves.”
To donate online, see http://site.wish.org/goto/Logan2016.
About Make-A-Wish, http://centralca.wish.org.