RALEIGH — Wishes are not just for the holiday season. There are children living in North Carolina hoping their special wish will be granted any day of the year as it’s their wishes that are giving them hope and joy during trying times.
Patricia Hash, 17, of Raleigh, got her own “dream come true” moment courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C. She recently sang with country superstar Chris Young in Nashville and appeared on the Country Music Awards’ Country Christmas.
Hash was diagnosed at birth with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, rare autosomal recessive genetic disorder that causes defects in the action of cilia lining the respiratory tract that includes the lower and upper sinuses, Eustachian tube, and middle ear.
“I’m sick all the time,” said Hash. “It’s a progressive disease so it keeps getting worse. The disease makes it harder to breathe and reduces my lung function.”
As a result of the disease, Hash takes multiple medications daily and takes breathing treatments for 30 minutes twice a day.
“I’ve never not been sick. It’s hard to live a normal life,” said Hash. “I have to make sure I get a lot of sleep because my body needs more time to recover.”
In an escape from her illness, Hash enjoys listening to music, playing the piano, teaching herself to play the guitar and writing her own music. It’s her love of country music that led to her aspirations of being a music producer.
“I’ve been singing as long as I can remember,” said Hash. “It’s an escape from everything.”
At the beginning of November, Make-a-Wish granted Hash and her family a true escape. They traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for tours around the city’s historic sites, makeovers at Macy’s, a visit with her favorite country singer Chris Young and front row seats at the taping of CMA’s County Christmas which aired on television November 28.
“I was absolutely terrified when I first walked in. Meeting a celebrity can be very nerve-racking, but he was easy to talk to and really cared,” said Hash. “I learned Chris is more amazing than I thought and that I definitely want to be a music producer.”
Young gifted her with a new guitar, amp and a recording of her own song, “It’s Time for Us.” Then the two of them sang a duet of his number-one country hit, “Think of You.”
Patricia’s family gathered in her neighborhood clubhouse in North Raleigh for a watch party when the CMA’s aired. The staff of Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina was there to cheer her on for this in a once-in-a-lifetime evening. The organization is dedicated to is helping children with life-threatening medical conditions receive by granting more than 200 wishes annually. Seeing Patricia on an evening like that is worth every minute of their hard work.
“We don’t claim to be medicine, but studies have revealed that the power of a wish granted positively impacts the health of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The wish experience also helps unite and comfort the wish families who are faced with the enormous medical, emotional and financial challenges associated with the care of their child,” said Kristen Johnson, president and CEO for Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina.
The Eastern North Carolina chapter was founded in 1986 to serve the 49 counties from the Alamance and Orange County line to the coast of the state. Since its inception, the chapter has granted 3,300 wishes. The Central and Western North Carolina chapter serves the remaining 51 counties.
Wishes fall into one of five categories: to be, to have, to meet, to go, and to give back. “To be” allows children to spend a day as a fire fighter, police officer or soldier. The national organization, founded in 1983, is the legacy of Chris Greicius, a seven-year-old battling leukemia who wanted to be a police officer. “To have” allows children to receive tangible items such as computers and shopping sprees. “To meet” provides children will opportunities to visit with celebrities and athletes. “To go” gives children and their families the ability to travel to popular destinations such as Disney World. “To give back” allows children to use their wish to give back to their communities for the greater good.
“Make-A-Wish has been amazing. Their kindness, generosity and giving spirit amazes me,” said Hash. “This was a life changing experience I’ll never forget and one of the most amazing times in my life.”
Currently, there are 300 eligible children waiting for their wishes to be granted in Eastern North Carolina. At an average cost of $7,500 per wish, donations, volunteers, and gifts are needed to support these children and teens.
Johnson added, “We have hundreds of children who are currently awaiting their wish and we need the support of our local communities to help make their wishes come true. This support can come in the form of either monetary contributions or in-kind donations like airline miles. Every gift helps.”