NBC Connecticut and Telemundo Connecticut are once again partnering with Make-A-Wish Connecticut for the annual "Miles for Smiles" campaign.
According to Make-A-Wish Connecticut, the pandemic has forced the organization to postpone about 150 wishes. Nearly 70% of all wishes are travel-related. Make-A-Wish Connecticut said they are preparing now to ensure all of the wishes can be granted as soon as it is safe to travel.
Elvie, 11, from Killingworth, is excited for her wish to be granted. When it is safe, Elvie will travel to see tropical birds in their natural habitat.
"I love all birds!" said Elvie.
Elvie was born with a neuromuscular disorder. She has faced many challenges and has an uncertain future, but her love for birds has always been a constant. Her family is thankful that they have the trip to look forward to.
“Every time something isn’t going so great...we talk about what the trip will be like and the things she wants to do," said Gail Buller, Elvie's mom.
Make-A-Wish pays for the entire trip. The organization said that because of the pandemic, their revenue is projected to be down by 50%.
"If you have ever thought about wanting to support us – with either monetary donations or airline miles - the time is now," Pam Keough, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Connecticut, wrote in a press release. "In these times, hope is essential for children with critical illnesses. By granting a wish, these kids receive so much more than a temporary escape."
This week, people are asked to donate unused airline miles or make monetary donations to Make-A-Wish Connecticut. For airline miles donations, visit milesforsmiles.wish.org. For monetary donations, please visit ct.wish.org/donate. Or, viewers can call 855-622-2830 to make all donations by phone.
According to Make-A-Wish, if miles are transferred to the organization, they will not expire. They say the miles help offset the cost of the trips.
The campaign runs through Friday.
During the pandemic, Make-A-Wish has also adapted to grant other types of wishes.
Elyana, a 5-year-old from New Haven, had originally wished for a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. However, when the pandemic hit, she switched gears and asked for dance classes instead.
“Seeing her smiling, enjoying herself. It just makes me forget about everything that we were going through," said Raissa Loue, Elyana's mom.
When Elyana was three, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She has had a difficult journey, but she is doing well now. Her mom said that she is thankful that Elyana gets to go to dance classes and forget about what she has experienced.
"She was smiling, all over the place," said Loue.
Elyana told NBC Connecticut dance classes make her feel happy. She is grateful that her wish was granted.