Mom: Make-A-Wish makes a difference

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Brianna Givens was too busy being a child to talk about her wishcoming true.

But Kimberly Givens smiled as she talked about Make-A-Wishsending her four-year-old daughter to Gatlinburg, Tenn., earlierthis year to see black bears and horses during a festivalthere.

“She had a great time, and Make-A-Wish made a big difference inher life,” Givens said Tuesday during a kickoff for Brookhaven’sWalk For Wishes Oct. 9.

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As Brianna played around her mother’s feet, Givens discussed theMonticello girl’s medical history and how Make-A-Wish had helpedtheir family.

“We appreciate everything Make-A-Wish did for us,” Givenssaid.

Givens said Brianna was born with a congenital heart disease,has only three chambers in her heart and no spleen. In addition toother ailments, the girl has had four open-heart surgeries, withthe latest being in June.

Later, as Brianna collected sticker name tags from eventattendees and opened a small bag of goodies, Givens said the girlis making a good recovery. She said Brianna is not expected to needany more surgeries.

“She’s doing 100 percent better,” Givens said.

Brianna Givens in just one of several area children withlife-threatening illnesses who have been helped by Make-A-Wish.

With a goal of $25,000, organizers are hoping the Walk ForWishes will allow the chapter to grant wishes to five areachildren. The average cost for granting a wish is $5,000.

The walk is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at ExchangeClub Park. Organizers are now forming teams.

T.J. McSparrin, president and chief executive officer ofMake-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi, said granting a wishrepresents a chance for children and their families to enjoythemselves without the worries of doctor visits or healthconcerns.

“It gives them the opportunity to be a child,” McSparrinsaid.

McSparrin said the most popular wish is a trip to Disney World.However, ill children have asked for things like shopping sprees,computers or a chance to meet a celebrity.

“The list is endless, and it’s really just limited by thechild’s imagination,” McSparrin said.

McSparrin said 98.5 percent of all money raised by Mississippiefforts stays in the state. The remaining percentage is sent to thenational organization to assist with marketing and otherefforts.

Jane Walsh, Make-A-Wish Foundation development coordinator, saidthe area chapter is very active.

Walsh encouraged walk participants to try to get schoolsinvolved in fund-raising efforts. Anyone with questions abouthelping in the walk may contact Lisa Givens, local chairperson, at835-5441 or 833-5381 or Walsh at 800-819-4072.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good way to raise money, have a goodtime and meet a lot of people,” Walsh said about the walk.