Should Make-A-Wish trip go to child who beat cancer?
July 19th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Should Make-A-Wish trip go to child who beat cancer?

The Disney World dreams of a 4-year-old Ohio girl who’s recovering from leukemia are looking better this week after plans for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to pay for the trip were scrapped.

The girl, McKenna May, completed intensive treatment in June for the cancer she was diagnosed with more than two years ago. It was that treatment that prevented her from going to Disney when the Make-A-Wish trip was first discussed in January 2011, McKenna’s grandmother, Lori Helppie, said Thursday.

But McKenna is now on once-a-month aftercare visits that would allow time for her to make the trip to the Magic Kingdom, her mother, Whitney Hughes, told CNN.

However, McKenna’s father, William May of Toledo, Ohio, who was never married to Hughes, says Make-A-Wish’s money would be better spent on terminally ill children who will never get to experience Disney otherwise since his daughter is free of cancer.

He’s refusing to sign paperwork that would allow the foundation to pay for McKenna’s trip.

“There’s children out there that deserve a trip like this that will never get to experience it,” May, 28, told CNN Thursday. “My daughter can go when she’s older and can remember it. I’ll pay for it.”

Rather than pay upwards of $3,500 for McKenna and her family to go to Florida, May suggested the group just get the girl a $200 swing set for her backyard.

Paul Allvin, vice president for brand advancement with Make-A-Wish Foundation of America in Phoenix, told CNN a child need not be terminally ill to qualify for wish fulfillment. That was the case when the organization started, but the policy changed more than 20 years ago, he said.

These days, all a child needs to qualify is a doctor's verification that the child has or had a condition that would be life-threatening if left untreated, Allvin said. As many as 80% of "Wish Kids" live into adulthood, he said.

"What we would never do is penalize a child for getting better," Allvin said.

Susan McConnell, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish for Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, told the Sentinel-Tribune of Bowling Green, Ohio, that McKenna is certainly entitled to the organization’s help.

Hughes agrees with McConnell, saying her daughter endured a lot during her treatment and deserves the Florida trip.

"She's really excited," Hughes told the Sentinel-Tribune, which first published accounts of McKenna’s story this week. "It's all she's talked about for the last three months."

After May refused to sign off on the trip last month, Hughes withdrew her request with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and tried to raise money privately, putting out collection jars around the area where they live and setting up an online donation site.

Hughes said Thursday it will take $3,500 for her, McKenna, McKenna’s younger sister and her grandmother and grandfather to spend a couple of days at Disney and a couple of  days at Daytona Beach “to build sandcastles.”

McKenna’s mother and grandmother have also set up a site to accept donations online, That site showed a flurry of donations Thursday as McKenna’s story spread across national media and donations passed the $9,700 mark early Thursday evening.

“I will get her there someday, but I’m not sure when I’ll get her there,” Hughes said Thursday morning. With the online response, it appears McKenna’s dream may come true sooner rather than later.

Nevertheless, "We are ready to grant this wish if the parents can work it out," Allvin said.

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Filed under: Charity • Health • Ohio
soundoff (428 Responses)
  1. ldyparadox99

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes. Just because she's in remission today doesn't mean the cancer won't come back next week, next month, next year or 5 years down the road. Why take the memory away from loved ones IF it comes back?? I donated about $5,000 worth of collectible toys to the wishing star that's local to where I grew up and I would be content knowing that the money went to a child currently in remission if that is how the chapter wanted to use it!

    July 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shay

    Dad is sphincter muscle. How can he not want his daughter to enjoy herself after what she went thru. He's manipulating the situation to punish baby mama probably. What goes around comes around. Does he have custody of his daughter? He shouldn't even have say.

    July 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andrea

    My grandson is currently in remission with his leukemia, April of last year, which was his 1 aniversary for remission he was presented with his Make A Wish gift. Make A Wish is a celebration of not only the terminal but those children who are currently fighting or are in remission for the diesases. Each child desires this special attention as they have all gone through horendous treatments and a major life changing moments for both the child and the family. Thank God for Make A WIsh!

    July 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dee

    Doubtful that the father helped with any of the medical care, like taking McKenna to chemo appointments and the like. He should be happy she made it through and is alive and well and let her and the mother do what they want. I think the mother should get an attorney and get that sperm donor off of the birth certificate and be able to make legal decisions on her own.

    July 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jessie

    Make A Wish isn't in the wrong here – they took back the wish because the father didn't sign the consent form. End of story. People putting the blame on Make A Wish are wrong when it was completely in the father's control whether she could go or not. It's not because he sign the consent form. The dad is the jerk here, not Make A Wish.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nakisha

    This story upsets me a great amount. Make a wish is a wonderful organization. Children with leukemia can undergo extensive and intensive therapy up to 3 years. That is three years of no school (at least not much!) nor, vacation (it isn't fun being sick and unable to enjoy the sun because your skin is too sensitive.) and instead these kids have to face infections, chemo, blood transfusions and surgeries. After three years of this or even six months of this, don't you agree that a young child deserves something? And if a trip to Disney land is what they want and the organization says yes than what is the issue here? How many kids in North America become life-threatening ill? How much money is raised by this organization? A great deal and enough to go around for everyone.

    I am an osteogenic-sarcoma (bone cancer) survivor. I was granted my wish this year and I am forever thankful.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cancer pacreas

    You can definitely see your expertise within the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MalloryAngel-Dad

    The girl "deserves something" for having cancer? As if having cancer is something to be commended and rewarded? This little girl has something much better than Disney. This girl has LIFE. Give the vacations to those who have little time left.

    The reason many Make-a-Wish recipients are well is the very long application process. Many kids don't live long enough to get their wish. The healthy ones do though!! Our daughter died while Make-a-wish processed our request, a long process. Shorten the application process and grant the LAST wishes sick/dying children have.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
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