Ontario, Calif. —Nearly 300 walkers came out to support Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire for the inaugural Inland Empire Walk For Wishes event, presented by Ontario Auto Center, Sunday, Aug. 26. The event was held at the Ontario Convention Center and raised more than $20,000. The proceeds from the walk directly help grant the wishes of kids living in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties who face life-threatening medical conditions.
The top fundraising team was Disney Ontario Warehouse. The team raised more than $5,000 and adopted the wish of a local child. The top individual fundraiser award went to Franco Tamburrino, who raised close to $2,000.
“We couldn’t be happier with the outcome of our first Walk For Wishes in the Inland Empire,” said Stephanie McCormick, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire. “Sincere thanks to everyone for coming out and making this event a great success!”
Walk For Wishes featured popular morning radio personality, DJ Evelyn Erives, of Riverside’s KGGI – 99.1 FM. Several current and former wish recipients also came out to walk, including 15-year-old Brigette, who spoke to the crowd just before the walk began about her wish to have a shopping spree in New York. Another former wish child, Isaac, and his family were also in attendance.
It’s been three years since Isaac’s wish to be a pirate was granted. Isaac, now 8 years old, and the entire Martinez family have been giving back ever since they were first introduced to Make-A-Wish.
“We just want to help and do for other kids what Make-A-Wish did for us,” said Kimberly Martinez, Isaac’s mom. “Getting Isaac’s wish granted was something our whole family looked forward to, and it gave us a chance to forget about doctor visits and cancer treatment for a while.”
Isaac was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 and had his wish granted early in 2009. He has been out of treatment for more than 18 months. His uncle, Matt Martinez, wrote a children’s book called “Alex, The Firefighting Astronaut Ninja” about Isaac’s experience and donates a portion of the sales back to Make-A-Wish. The Martinez family attended the walk in hopes of inspiring others to get more involved.
The Ontario Auto Center sponsored the Walk For Wishes event, and registration for the walk gained participants entry into the Inland Empire Auto Show. Hansen’s Natural supported the event as the beverage sponsor. Sam’s Club donated food for the morning.
Dozens of volunteers pitched in, and together with all the sponsors, walkers and wish families, the Walk For Wishes event made its mark on the Inland Empire.
“The majority of the wishes we grant are for kids living here in the Inland Empire,” said McCormick. “The funds raised from this walk will help us grant even more for all of these deserving kids.”
Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire is a local non-profit organization and it relies on the support of the community for the success of its mission to grant the wishes of kids with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
For more information, visit www.wishocie.org or call 714-573-9474.