The annual BIG Wish gala for Make-A-Wish was held at the Marriott Key Center and drew very significant corporate support. Area President and CEO Doug Kelly explained, “Support of our organization in Northeast Ohio is so strong that we have been able to grant more wishes than just about any other area.” Almost 440 guests were on hand to raise in excess of $125,000 for the local chapter. They bid on silent auction items, but they also had a chance to meet some of the children whose
wishes were granted.
Among the chairs of this year’s event was Denise Dufala whose work is continuous and extensive. Serving as the emcee for the evening is just the tip of her involvement. In the program for the night, guests raised their paddles to help make more dreams come true. They were moved by the story of the Kenneley family whose son Riley had a wish granted in 1999. Although Riley passed away shortly after his wish experience of meeting Jim Thome, his family still talks of the impact of the event. Through media projections, the audience saw the diverse wishes that children have, including some that were not for themselves, but for the benefit of others. It’s no wonder that the live auction and “paddle raise” were so successful. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPGHS BY ART THOMAS