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Want to help children? Try Make-A-Wish walk

If you had the opportunity to easily help some young child suffering from a menacing health issue, would you step forward? Of course you would.

So here’s your opportunity. On March 10, Make-A-Wish of Southern Nevada will conduct its “Walk for Wishes” at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd South. Some participating teams will walk a mile and other teams will run 3.1 miles to help kids with serious illnesses. And thousands of spectators will gather, all in an effort to help Make-A-Wish meet its Southern Nevada goal of raising $465,000.

“This is one of our most significant fundraising events, and we anticipate the participation of about 3,500 people …” said Caroline Ciocca, president and CEO of the Southern Nevada chapter of Make-A-Wish America.

The chapter, at 9950 Covington Cross Drive, is celebrating its first full year as part of the Summerlin community. Its site is better known as the Wishing Place.

In addition, Team Allegiant, consisting of employees of Allegiant Airlines, will participate in Walk for Wishes and is looking to increase the size of its 150-member team from last year. Allegiant Air, which donated the Wishing Place campus to the nonprofit organization, has already pledged $50,000 as a sponsor of the upcoming event.

The airline’s headquarters is just opposite the 7,000-square-foot Wishing Place. Allegiant contributed more than $1.5 million to renovate the site into a children’s storyland setting.

Each adult participant in Walk for Wishes will pay an entry fee of $30, and each participating youth will pay $20, Ciocca said. The event will begin at 8 a.m. March 10, with a ceremony hosted by Kim and Dana Wagner of “Wake Up With the Wagners,” the Channel 3 TV program.

“At that time we’ll recognize companies and individuals who do good things for kids by helping us to grant their wishes,” Ciocca said. “Since our move to Summerlin, we have more than 100 kids whose wishes have come true. Wish kids can be any age between two and 18.”

Make-A-Wish and Allegiant Air have maintained their relationship nationally for more than five years, during which the airline has flown children at no cost to help fulfill their wishes.

“We’ll provide the 1,000th free ride for a wish kid sometime in March,” said Hilarie Grey, director of corporate communications for Allegiant.

“We always welcome visitors to The Wishing Place,” said Ciocca. “In fact we have had well over 1,000 visitors to our facility since we opened here in February of last year.”

She said more than 100 individuals volunteer to help kids with dreaded illnesses reach their wish in Southern Nevada.

“We granted 117 wishes in 2017. This year our goal is to grant 130 wishes,” Ciocca said.

Who are these children, and how are they referred to Make-A-Wish?

“They’re kids with some of the most threatening illnesses,” Ciocca replied. “The majority of them are referred to us by medical professionals. Others are referred by family members.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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