CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — People gathered in Champaign’s Hessel Park on Sunday for the annual Walk for Wishes event. The event helps raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Make-A-Wish helps make dreams come true for children with critical illnesses. It’s a break from their day-to-day medical stresses, and it means a lot to parents too.

That includes parents like Aurea Garvin, who walked at the event. Her son, Dominic, had his wish granted by the foundation. Life wasn’t always easy for the pair, as Dominic spent his first two years of life on a respirator in the hospital. He was starting to get better, but that didn’t stop Make-A-Wish from helping. It was a surprise that Garvin is grateful for.

For Dominic’s wish, he went to see Thomas the Tank Engine at a Carver, Mass. amusement park.

“I’ve never seen his eyes get, like, so big and lit up. Oh, it was amazing,” Garvin said.

Make-A-Wish’s Gina Marsh has been volunteering at Walk for Wishes for a decade.
She said the event is important because it will help them make more dreams come true.

“We’ve done everything from playgrounds to swimming pools to trips to Hawaii,” Marsh said, “and kind of, honestly, everything in between.”

Marsh said Walk for Wishes is more than just the mile track around Hessel Park. It’s also about Make-A-Wish alumni, family and supporters having fun and raising money.

“The walk is how we tie it all together at the end,” she said.

The people there know how uplifting granting a wish can be, but the care before and after the wish is something special, too.

“They were giving us encouragement that I don’t think that they even knew in the moment,” Garvin said. “They were giving us, as a family, [the encouragement] to just be able to be like, you know what? You can do some normal things and not just have all your travels be doctor-related.”

This past year, Make-A-Wish Illinois granted 729 wishes, and right now, more than 15,000 families in the state are planning their trips and fun adventures. The Champaign event was one of six across Illinois on Sunday.