BUSINESS

Nonprofit update: Make-A-Wish starts inaugural Women Inspiring Strength and Hope luncheon, A Kid Again seeks to expand out of state

Julie Bhusal Sharma

Children at A Kid Again's OSU Spring Game event.

Today, Make-A-Wish hosts its first W.I.S.H. (Women Inspiring Strength and Hope) luncheon, which honors 20 central Ohio women who raised wishes-generating or giving at least $8,000 (the average cost ofawish). The list of women includes Columbus business leaders such as Katie Lloyd-Wolfe, previous vice president and publisher of Dispatch Magazines and Kara Trott, founder and CEO of Quantum Health.

Make-A-Wish's ability to tend to the interests of philanthropists has allowed the nonprofit to increase its donor pool to those outside of Columbus, like honoree Karen Wright, president and CEO of Ariel Corporation, a manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors in Mount Vernon.

"I have not been involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation before because it's really more of a Columbus thing. I try to do more of that local and so they were able to find a girl that lives (in Knox County) that was a nice combination that worked for me," says Wright.

Though Wright won't meet the girl for which she is granting a wish to visit Disney World, Wright already knows its effect.

"I think that that's something that's really nice about this idea of granting a special wish- that sometimes that makes a difference between living and dying," says Wright. "That's pretty powerful."

Meanwhile, A Kid Again, a Columbus-based nonprofit with chapters in Cincinnati and Cleveland that gives families of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses opportunities for fun and community, is looking to expand.

The growth could be strategic.

A Kid Again's number one donor is Cedar Fair, owner of Cedar Point and King's Island, which has donated over 50,000 tickets to King's Island and has raised over $350,000 for the organization through roller coaster openings and campouts.

"They're such an incredible partner," says Jeffrey Damron, CEO of A Kid Again.

The nonprofit is therefore looking to establish chapters where Cedar Fair has eleven amusement parks nationwide or to open up chapters in Ohio's contiguous states.

Damron says that by June 2016, the decision will have been made on how to expand and will already be implemented.

This year, A Kid Again has also increased its volunteer base by 50 to round to about 1,000 volunteers throughout its Ohio chapters and has added three new OSU events for families of those with life-threatening illnesses, including the OSU Spring Game sponsored by Safelite AutoGlass and the OSU vs. Western Michigan game.

-Julie France