Little wish, big impact

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By Chris Bavender

For a child battling cancer, it’s hard some days to find anything to smile about. Life is a continuous round of doctor appointments, treatments, and, more often than not, long stays in the hospital.

That’s where Liz Niemiec, 20, and the Little Wish Foundation come in. Little Wish does just that – grants little wishes to children with cancer.

“There are many families that are so strapped with medical bills that they can’t afford to grant their child’s little wish,” Niemiec, a Butler University student, said. “Obviously I can’t help their case but I can do something little, yet in a big way.”

Niemiec started the nonprofit foundation four years ago after a teacher’s 7-year-old son, Max, died from Wilm’s tumor, a rare type of kidney cancer. All Max wanted before he died was to have his own puppy.

“I was just really inspired by Max, that someone so young could be taken by cancer. On the way home from his wake I didn’t have much to say. What can you really say after something like that,” Niemiec said. “But, then it just hit me that I wanted to do something for other kids like Max. I told my mom I wanted to start a foundation and eventually it all fell into place.”

Wishes range from $300 to $1,000 for items such as iPads, spa days, event tickets and laptops. To date, the Little Wish Foundation has granted more than 201 little wishes and raised more than $200,000 through fundraising events. Wishes have been granted to children battling cancer at Riley Hospital, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and South Bend Memorial Hospital.

To help continue to grant little wishes, the foundation will host a beer/wine tasting and dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Mansion at Oak Hill.

“For the first hour we will have local breweries and wineries on hand for the tasting leading into the dinner,” Niemiec said. “A past little wish recipient will be a speaker and there will be a silent auction. I just want everyone to come and have a great time and help us grant more wishes.”

As for the future, Niemiec, who is studying nonprofit management, hopes Little Wish will become established in even more children’s hospitals.

“I just want to expand something I really believe in,” she said. “Hopefully we will be across the state at that point, and, really, all over the country – that is my goal. I just want to help more kids and stay true to our mission.”

For more information on the fundraiser and the Little Wish Foundation visit www.littlewishfoundation.org or call 219-809-7653. Tickets are $60 per person or $100 per couple.

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