Senior Connections Senior Connections Sept. 2018

Connecting Seniors Through News, Information, and Advertising September 2018 VOLUME 1 | NO. 2 Senior Connections HJ.COM GRAB ONE - FREE! Hutchinson couple spread joy with Make-A-Wish Foundation EMILY BYWATERS Correspondent According to Garey and Sherry Knudsen, volun- teering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation is not just a side hobby, but a position that brings joy to both themselves and the people whose lives they touch. Originally from southwest Iowa, the Knudsens found themselves in Minnesota after Garey was of- fered a job at Ridgewater College. The high school sweethearts have now lived in the area for 45 years, and are quite enjoying it, though Garey joked that when they moved in, the busy neighborhood they live in was mainly cornfi elds. They have three children, and six grandchildren. Now retired, Garey and Sherry both have plenty of experience with younger people. Sherry was a day care provider for 28 years, and Garey has a bachelor’s degree in teaching and a master’s degree in guidance counseling. Little did they know that their familiarity with children would lend a hand in being Wish Granters for Make-A-Wish. They fi rst heard about Make-A-Wish when their grandson, Jack, was diagnosed with a life-threaten- ing illness and given a wish. The boy passed away, but the Knudsens decided to volunteer for the orga- nization that gave their grandson so much joy, in his memory. Nine years later, they work together as Wish Grant- ers – people who work as the middlemen between the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the families it serves. “I contacted the Make-A-Wish headquarters in Minneapolis and told them we were interested, and they had a training session set up, so we went through the training and thought it was very enlightening, very enjoyable,” Garey explained. They both recounted several fond memories from their time with the program, from helping a little boy with a Cochlear implant build a safe park, to having a girl excuse herself to scream excit- edly in her room when her wish was granted. The Knudsens said anyone who vol- unteers gets far more out of it than they put in. Garey said one of the rewards for volunteering is the gift of taking care of things for the families and making their lives a little easier. For Sherry, what makes it all worth- while is the happiness they give to the children and their families. The Knudsens said there aren’t many volunteers for Make-A-Wish in rural Minnesota. Whether it be a lack of time, energy, or understanding, the simple fact is that not many people vol- unteer. Sherry and Garey Knudsen of Hutchinson have volunteered with Make- “I think some people probably think A-Wish Minnesota for nine years. it’s a little scary to go into families’ PHOTO BY EMILY BYWATERS homes where the child has a life-threat- tion, Make-A-Wish is the largest wish-granting char- ening illness,” Garey suggested. “But we’ve never ity in the world, with 62 chapters in the US and its run into any issues at all . . . they’re very welcoming, territories, and 39 affi liates serving 50 countries. open . . . it’s very exciting for the families to have Make-A-Wish Minnesota was founded in 1982, something good happen.” and fulfi lls the wishes of children throughout the en- “Sometimes I feel like it’s the real boost they need tire state. in diffi cult times,” Sherry added. With the help of donors and more than 800 volun- However, wish granting isn’t the only way to vol- teers, Make-A-Wish Minnesota grants a wish every unteer. Volunteering for fundraisers, participating 27 minutes, and has granted more than 5,000 wishes in walk-a-thons, helping out at one of the offi ces, or since its inception. sending off/welcoming back Make-A-Wish children Children between the ages of 2-and-a-half and 18 at airports when they go on trips, are all much-need- with a life-threatening medical condition are poten- ed positions to be fi lled. tially eligible for a wish. The Knudsens stressed that it’s a great volunteer To learn more about volunteering for Make-A-Wish, opportunity for all ages – young and old. or the foundation in general, visit, About Make-A-Wish or contact the Minneapolis offi ce at 612-767-9474. According to materials provided by the organiza- Senior Connections is distributed to: Annandale | Buffalo | Cokato | Darwin | Dassel | Delano | Glencoe | Howard Lake | Hutchinson | Kimball | Lester Prairie Litchfi eld | Loretto | Maple Lake | Maple Plain | Mayer | Montrose | Mound | New Germany | Norwood Young America Rockford | Silver Lake | South Haven | St. Bonifacius | Waconia | Watertown | Waverly | Winsted