Make-A-Wish all about bringing joy to livesDale Odegaard said all the hard work organizing Summer’s Last Dance has a big payoff. It’s seeing the happiness on the face of kids who benefit from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota, which benefitted from the second annual event.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Dale Odegaard said all the hard work organizing Summer’s Last Dance has a big payoff.
It’s seeing the happiness on the face of kids who benefit from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota, which benefitted from the second annual event.
“We bring joy to their lives,” Odegaard said Friday afternoon as Summer’s Last Dance kicked off at the Mitchell Day Camp, 1200 Indian Village Road,
“Basically, in the committee, we see the happy end of it,” he said.
Odegaard and Brad Buche are co-chairmen of the Summer’s Last Dance Committee. Buche is also president of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota.
They were hoping 200 or more people attended Summer’s Last Dance, which featured four live performances, food, drinks and fun. All the money raised will be used to grant wishes for children 2 to 17 in Mitchell.
The kids are referred to the committee by a doctor who learns of their desire for a wish from family members or friends. They must have a life-threatening illness to qualify, Buche said.
The kids know they face a serious health challenge. The goal of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to offer them a moment of peace and pleasure, he said.
“It’s just a lot of emotions,” Buche said. “It gives them that time to make memories.”
Xavier Valandras of Mitchell received a wish after about $10,000 was raised in the first Summer’s Last Dance. He went to Walt Disney World.
He and his mother, Deanna Flood, attended Friday night’s event, where Flood detailed the trip and offered thanks.
Odegaard said when committee members visit a family, they take to the adults and the child separately. The goal, he said, is to ensure the wish that will be fulfilled is what the child really wants.
One local child asked for a big-screen TV and video games. Another child in South Dakota was given a trip to Spain with his family.
Others have asked for a pop-up camper to allow the family to take trips, he said. Walt Disney World and Disneyland are always popular options.
Odegaard said he has done a bit of community activity over the years, but this is “the most rewarding” volunteer work he has ever taken part in. There are 12 committee members and they found the community and local sponsors eager to help, he said.
While the Make-A-Wish Foundation has held events across the state for years. Summer’s Last Dance just started in 2009.
“We hope it grows someday to a two-day event,” Odegaard said.