Today I spoke with Mr. Norm Wedderburn, who is the President and CEO of the SFL Chapter of Make-a-Wish Foundation. I travel to a lot of hospitals and schools to visit kids, and especially in hospitals, it is so sad to see the kids battling an illness, but at the same time, it is so awesome to see the joy in their eyes when they see the Wuf Shanti character or they are playing a game with their friends or singing a song or coloring with their parents. They are so resilient, and the parents, for that time while their kids are happy, are so hopeful. Hope and Joy are emotions that Make-a-Wish brings to children and their parents every day. It is one of the best organizations in our world for helping kids and their families to live a mindful magnificent moment together.
Please tell us a little about yourself, what drew you to Make-A-Wish, and the Make-A-Wish mission.
I have always been moved by community service. I feel everyone owes it to their community to get involved. I love the work of children’s charities and so Make-A-Wish was perfect for me. I first got involved as a volunteer, then Board member, then Board Chair and 13 years ago, I sold my law practice and took over as its President and CEO.
Why is that so important with everything going on in the world today to turn wishes into reality?
Wishes provide hope to our wish children and their families. In many instances wishes provide the inspiration for our children to fight harder to combat their illnesses. They need to know that something positive will come out of the challenges they are going thru.
How can we get all the companies with similar missions to understand that we will make more positive change in this world if we work together?
I think a lot companies and organizations are realizing that together we are stronger.
If you had to pick one Make-A-Wish story that stands out in your mind for other people and companies to be inspired to get involved, what would it be?
That’s a really hard question because I have so many. One that jumps to the top of my mind is a wish we did several years ago for a young girl who loved tennis. She told her family that she did not want to continue her chemo treatment. When Make-A-Wish entered her life, she asked to go to Wimbledon. We said it could happen only if she got healthy enough to fly there so she went through more treatment. Today she is cancer free, graduated college and just got married. She will tell you that she owes her life to Make-A-Wish.
Children are the world’s future leaders, CEOs, and politicians. What advice do you have for teachers, administrators, healthcare practitioners, and parents as it relates to teaching kids or raising kids to be givers, to be compassionate?
Get kids involved in activities that benefit others as soon as possible. They may complain at first but they will appreciate it later. Only when someone sees the challenges that others have can they fully appreciate their own life.
Science has shown that positive thinking, meditation, kindness to self and others, and joy can help the healing process. That must play a factor in granting wishes. Have you seen first hand the effect that making wishes a reality can have on the kids and their families?
Absolutely. We see it every day. We change the trajectory that sick children and their families are on by granting a wish.
What advice do you have to kids as it relates to learning kindness to self, positive thinking, and joy?
People who are positive and caring have more friends, better relationships, are happier and are more successful – every study shows this to be true.
And I believe that positive thinking can also help them to heal faster. Thank you Mr. Wedderburn for speaking with me today. Make-A-Wish is an amazing organization, and everyone thanks you so much for the joy you bring to children and their families. You are a real hero. If anyone wants to help Make-a-Wish by donating, please go to http://sfla.wish.org/ways-to-help
To learn more about Wuf Shanti: https://wufshanti.com/2018/05/about-wuf-shanti/