With a 300-person Wish Night fundraiser at Ocean Gateway on Nov. 11, Make-a-Wish Maine celebrated the 1,700 wishes granted since the nonprofit was founded in 1992. The event raised $300,000.

“We’re celebrating the life-changing impact of granting wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses,” said event co-chair Jess Chamberlain.

The evening featured country rock band 12/OC, festive beverages and heavy hors d’oeuvres, live and silent auctions, inspiring stories and wish-themed activities.

Guests wore corsages in honor of Declan’s 2022 wish for a garden, ate cake pops in honor of Skylar’s 2018 wish to bake with “Cake Boss,” played videogame Cruisin’ in honor of Jeffrey’s 2010 wish to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr., shot hoops in honor of Nick’s 2020 wish for a court of his own, and tossed horseshoes in honor of Cody’s 2016 wish to visit a dude ranch.

A photographer snapped portraits of guests on a red carpet alongside cardboard cutouts of Dolly Parton and John Cena in honor of six Wish kids from Maine who got to meet their favorite celebrities – Parton, Cena, Emeril Lagasse, Zac Efron, Katy Perry and Rascal Flatts.

“I’ve seen the challenges that our Wish families battle and how a wish can be a turning point,” said board chair Hannah May of Cumberland. “It gives the family something to focus on, making it about the wish, not the illness.”

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The highlight of the Wish Night was a theatrical Disney-esque production announcing that Wish kid Ainsley Huckins (and her twin sister Jordan Huckins) will soon be princesses in the Magic Kingdom. Twenty-year-old Make-a-Wish volunteer Hayley Desjardins put the crowns on the girls’ heads – a full-circle moment for a former Wish kid who had the same Disney dream when she was a 7-year-old with a serious bone marrow disease.

“Crowning those two little princesses was such an incredible and emotional experience,” Desjardins said. “Being able to grant Ainsley’s wish is a memory that I will cherish, and I hope Ainsley and her family will as well.”

On average, Make-a-Wish grants one wish every five days. Information on Make-a-Wish Maine’s Season of Wishes campaign, running through Dec. 16, is available at wish.org/maine/season-wishes.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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