Through laughter and tears of joy, MISO employees are helping create lifelong memories for children who endure unimaginable challenges.
Granting wishes and watching smiles grow has become a passion for employees who get involved, says MISO Client Relations Analyst Andrea Terry.
“A lot of these kids have been fighting their entire lives,” Terry explains. “It just melts my heart to help bring some happiness in the midst of their struggles.”
Earlier this month, the Make-A-Wish organization recognized MISO as the first corporation to contribute more than $1 million through its Indiana chapter.
In total, MISO employees from Eagan, Minnesota, to Metairie, Louisiana, have raised almost $1.3 million – making possible wishes for more than a hundred Make-A-Wish children throughout the MISO footprint.
The smile says it all
MISO employees say the happiness each wish brings a child is an immeasurable reward.
Terry vividly remembers the day 10-year-old Abby and her family visited MISO South to learn employees were sponsoring their Disney cruise – a dream for the bubbly young lady who has immune deficiency chronic lung disease.
“I didn’t realize the impact until I had a chance to speak with Abby’s mom,” Terry recalls. “She talked with us about their daily routine and some of the challenges and fears they live with – and how strong Abby is as she faces her challenges. I was overcome with emotion.”
“Seeing the look on Abby’s face and hearing the gratitude in her mother’s words was something I was not prepared for,” added MISO Executive Assistant Cristina Ruth. “At that moment I was proud and pleased to be a part of a team that cares so much for others.”
That same caring spirit surrounded MISO Make-A-Wish volunteers as they sent 17-year-old Micah Goeman on a wish-come-true for the Major League Baseball fan and his family.
“The smile on his face told the story,” MISO’s Kerry Wonders remembers. “We were at Micah’s house at 6:30 in the morning and everyone was holding signs and bearing gifts. The whole family was there, and they were so thankful for the experience.
“When you understand and see what a child and their family is going through, to be able to help make that a little easier – it’s something that makes an impact on you,” Wonders adds.
It’s about the kids
“Make-A-Wish is a compelling organization because it’s about the kids,” explains Amy Deden, of MISO’s Eagan, Minnesota, office. “Many of the wishes aren’t as big. We granted a wish in Eagan where the kid simply asked for a game system. That’s not a hard ask – but it made a huge difference for the child.”
“If you know a family of a child with a life-changing condition, you see the struggle,” Deden says. “You just want to make them feel better. Anybody can make a difference through Make-A-Wish.”
In helping coordinate several Make-A-Wish activities, Wonders says the support is often overwhelming.
“The generosity of MISO employees is truly moving. From annual fundraising to volunteering, it’s remarkable to see the support they provide,” she explains.
MISO CEO John Bear is a long-time Make-A-Wish supporter and board member.
“Make-A-Wish families will tell you about the pain and suffering their children lived through, but they will also tell you about a special week they shared together when things were normal – a week MISO employees made happen through their generosity,” Bear says. “Think about that. The MISO team makes that happen for a tremendous number of families. I can’t thank our employees enough.”
For MISO employees – the smiles, laughter and happiness make it all worthwhile.
“It’s a great cause,” Terry says. “The feeling in helping these children – it’s a powerful calling that truly touches my heart in a deep place.”