Recently, the Make-A-Wish Foundation produced some interesting research that reminds us all why we do the work we do. While Make-A-Wish provides different services than we do here at Shining Stars, the intent is the same: To provide unique experiences that improve the mental, emotional, and even physical health of children battling a life-threatening illness.
The study focused on nearly 1,000 children with critical illnesses at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Half of these children had wishes granted, and half had not. In the end, the children who had been granted wishes were substantially less likely to visit the emergency department or to have an unplanned hospital admission within two years. Click here to read the full article.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Anup Patel, has a theory to explain these stunning results, stating that "My hypothesis is that these kids, when they come back, are more engaged with their families and medical providers, and perhaps they're more adherent to their treatment plan.”
“What's harder to quantify is this feeling of hope and having a break from your illness," Patel says. "It gives them an ability to fight harder, and that's harder to measure."
At Shining Stars Foundation, so many of our programs emulate this feeling of respite and hope. Perhaps none more so than the Aspen Winter Games. This year, we will bring close to 70 kids from across the country to Aspen to grant their winter wishes. Some of these kids will see snow for the very first time.
For those of us who have been to the Winter Games and witnessed the magic firsthand, the results of this study on wish-granting are no surprise to us. For those who might see experiences like this as frivolous and unnecessary, well, the proof is here - providing unique life experiences works. We are seeing real, hard evidence that giving sick children these extraordinary opportunities can have substantial effects on their physical health. It reminds them of what they are fighting for and lets them feel they are truly living their life, not simply trying to survive.
The Aspen Winter Games is an 8-day immersive, adaptive skiing and snowboarding experience at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado. Each child is provided with one-on-one ski, snowboard, ski-bike or sit-ski instruction, which culminates in a race at the week’s end, where each and every child, regardless of limb amputation, blindness or various other disabilities, is able to cruise through the Olympic-style race course to a cheering crowd at the base.
The enthralling daily experience on the mountain is rivaled by the scheduled evening activities, including pool parties, arts and crafts night, game nights, milk-shake bars, a disco-dance party in downtown Aspen, a week-ending celebration banquet at the world-famous St. Regis Resort and so much more.
Want to learn more about the Aspen Winter Games?