‘60 Minutes’ spotlights Arkansas ‘Make-A-Wish’ kid in bittersweet tale

CBS show takes a look at how organization makes dreams come true

Special to the Evening Times http://www.theeveningtimes.com

Wishes can come true because of people like Kendra Street. She is one of the volunteers and miracle workers behind the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the popular organization that grants the wishes of seriously ill children. In towns across America, they raise the money and the spirits of sick kids and their families through their heartfelt efforts. Back in October, “60 Minutes” aired correspondent Bill Whitaker’s story about his trip to Jonesboro to get an up close and personal look at what goes into making a “Make-A-Wish” kid’s dream come true. “60 Minutes” cameras were on hand to capture the joy in the story of Kaden Erickson, then 12 years old, of Jonesboro. From the moment volunteers interview Kaden about his wish to go to Australia to his surprise that it’s been granted, “60 Minutes” documented the efforts of an entire community who raised the funds to make the trip a dream come true for the young boy, who suffers from a deadly form of leukemia. For over a year, “60 Minutes” followed Kaden from hospital stays to the fulfillment of that wish nearly 10,000 miles away on another continent. On Sept. 18, 2015, Kaden Erickson passed away. He was 13. But Kaden was able to make his trip to the Land Down Under. Having undergone two painful bone marrow transplants, Kaden was excited, and grateful, and knew what the trip meant to his family. Street said she, too, knows what it’s like to have a wish granted. When she was diagnosed with cancer a decade ago, Make-A-Wish helped her through her ordeal by arranging for her to meet her favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. “The experience was so terrific,” she said, “I felt the only way to say ‘thank you’ was to become a Make-A-Wish volunteer myself.” With her cancer now in remission, she is on the giving side and says the giving part is even more rewarding. “Not to underestimate what my wish was for me, but if I had to sacrifice having my wish to be able to give it to someone else, I would definitely be willing to give it to someone else,” she said. “You get to give that joy. You get to pass it on to someone else.”  Funds to grant wishes are raised in communities in several ways, including old-fashioned shoe-leather drives in which volunteers take to the streets and shake cans for donations. As a teacher, Street harnessed her school’s students’ enthusiasm to help make Erickson’s wish come true. “Once they saw the power of a wish granted here, our kids wanted to help give that to someone else,” said Street. “And we’re a tiny, tiny school that raised $15,000. That’s incredible. It plays a huge part of who our kids grow up to be.”

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