TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granting wishes to sick children for almost 35 years. The non-profit is ran mainly by energetic, creative, and loving volunteers. But KEPR discovered some sad news. The Tri-Cities and Yakima chapters are desperate for volunteers. Dozens of ill kids are on the waiting list.
Spencer Anderson is one strong teenager. The 19-year old Hanford High grad has come a long way since his scare 2 years ago.
"I had severe abdominal pain, shoulder, muscle aches, lots of headaches and I wasn't sleeping and there was a lot of physical discomfort due to, well we didn't know what it was at the time," said Anderson.
It turns out Spencer was diagnosed with non-hodgkin's lymphoma. He calls his diagnosis a relief. He was ready to battle it head on. But his fight with cancer wasn't all bad. Spencer was granted a wish of his choice by the Make-A-Wish foundation. Spencer chose a weekend in Seattle as a Seahawks sportscaster, inspired by his passion to want to be a play-by-play commentator.
"It was something that, because I had it at the time I was finished with treatments, it was kind of a culmination of my experience with cancer, but it was a celebration of my survival, it was, that's the best way to put it, it was a culmination of what I had to worry about, it was looking forward to the future," said Anderson.
Spencer's experience with the Make-A-Wish foundation was made possible by his two volunteers, Nance and Darleen. They planned everything from his send-off dinner, to his flight, and all the sports casters he was able to meet.
"They were the two that, they were it, they were the responsibilities for how I was able to have this awesome experience," he said.
So when Spencer learned our area is in desperate need for volunteers, he wanted to do anything he could to help. There are 29 kids on the Tri-Cities waiting list. And only 23 volunteers. The organization likes to assign two volunteers per a 'wish kid', so that means they need about 35 more.
"You don't know how often the kids will be able to recover depending on what they have and that makes the urgency to grant their wishes, even more upfront and urgent, and so from that perspective, Make-A-Wish Foundation really is in need of people to help volunteer and grant those wishes because time could be running out for some people," said Anderson.
Spencer wants those 29 kids and their families to share the same experience he had. He wants them to have something to look forward to, to take their mind of their illness, even if it just for a short while.
"I look at it as, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has given me so many opportunities, that why wouldn't I want to continue to help them, continue to do my own part, not because I feel obligated, but because I want to give thanks, I want to pay it forward and that's what the experience really has taught me," he said.
If you want to be a volunteer, the next training session will be Wednesday July 23rd from 6 to 8:30 PM. The link to sign up is here.