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Boro mother, cancer victim receive wish
Make-A-Wish Foundation fund raiser is Saturday at GSU
Erin Haskins for Web
Statesboro's Erin Haskins is battling cancer. Earlier this year, the Make a Wish Foundation granted Haskins' request to visit Hawaii. Haskins, far left, is shown with her brother Hayden, mother Ann and father Ray while they were in Hawaii. - photo by Special
     Who says wishes don't come true? An organization that focuses on making dreams become reality for children with terminal illness  makes sure wishes are granted, but the Make-A-Wish Foundation needs help in raising the funds to pay for those wishes.
    Saturday, registration for Statesboro and Bulloch County's third Annual Walk For Wishes event will begin at 9 a.,m. at Georgia Southern University's Recreation Activity Center pavilion. The walk around the track begins at 10.
    The fund raiser makes it possible for children - facing challenges of terminal illness that take  away much of the fun in life - to experience their most heartfelt wishes.
    There are six pending wishes in the  Statesboro area and funds raised at the walk will go directly towards granting these wishes, said Ali Dunn,     
development officer for The Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Georgia and Alabama. There are over 500 pending wishes in Georgia and Alabama, she said.
    Walkers can participate individually or team up with family, friends, classmates, and co-workers. Pets are welcome on a leash. The cost to participate is $10 per person or $30 per family of four, Dunn said.
    Preregistration and further  fund raising is encouraged. For more information access Internet web site
    Entertainment and refreshments will be available before and after the walk. During the pledge walk, more than 300 local foundation supporters are expected to participate to help raise funds needed to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, Dunn said.
    Participants who raise at least $50 in sponsorships will receive a free Walk for Wishes t-shirt, she said.  
    But participants will get even more in the knowledge they helped kids like Erin Haskins, 18, of Statesboro, realize a wish.
    Haskins was diagnosed at age 14 with a brain tumor. It is in remission now, but the teen has endured brain surgery, radiation, and other surgeries due to endocrine issues caused by the tumor.
    This summer, she was able to put all of that aside for a while and enjoy a trip to Maui with her family.
    She wanted to go somewhere tropical, but the Make-A-Wish Foundation could not send her outside the United States. Maui was as tropical as she could get, she said.
    "I went snuba diving," she said. " It's a cross between scuba diving and snorkeling." She and her family - father Ray, Mother Ann and brother Hayden, 13, all enjoyed a helicopter tour of the island, a trip to an aquarium - and Erin delighted in the ecstasy of a massage.
    The joy of the trip " takes the worry away," she said. "It's an amazing opportunity that I never would have had. My family couldn't afford it because of all  the medical bills."
    Former Statesboro resident Erin Tillery White knows how Haskins feels. She was 12 when diagnosed with a tumor, called a PNET or Askins tumor. She was the first female  St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. had seen with this type tumor, and  they gave her six months to live.
    Now 33, a mother and planning a move back to Statesboro, White remembers her trip to Disney and a cruise - made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation -  as one of the most precious times in her life.
    Being flown to Orlando, having all of her family together at the same time, and having all expenses - even spending cash - taken care of by the foundation, made her wish a lifetime memory, she said.
    Her cancer is once again in remission; she has had cancer twice since the first diagnosis. Two more tumors appeared at age 28 and at age 30, doctors noted  more "activity."
    But in between all that White became a mother to now-three-year-old Tanner. " I was not supposed to have been able to have him," she said.
    But she did, and she has the memories of a family trip to Disney that she may one day be able to share with her son.
    But, the Make-A-Wish Foundation cannot grant wishes such as White and Haskins experienced without funds.
    "In its 14th year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia and Alabama operates on a budget of over $4 million with 79 percent of all funds used for granting wishes to children," Dunn said.
    Local volunteer Susan Allen said "We grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.  Over 60 wishes have been granted to children in the Statesboro area. "
     The average wish costs $6,700, she said. "The majority of wishes fall into four major categories - "I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, or I wish to have.'"
    Haskins remembers the summer trip as " a getaway - a glimpse of hope that takes your mind off what you're going through/ It gives you a little bit of goodness."
    "I love make-A-Wish," White said. " I wish I could be there this weekend. I support anything they do."
    Haskins agrees. She appreciates the meaning of her wish being granted, because she knows what may lie ahead for her.
    Due to her illness,  her vision is limited and could worsen. " I may one day lose all my vision," she said. " I wanted to see a place that beautiful before I lost it all."
    For more information on the Walk for Wishes, contact Athena Rivera at (912) 271 - 3634.

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