By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Special Interest | Issue: April 2012
Elijah LaRue, 9, and Jeff Summers, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma, at the Ambassador Award ceremony on March 9, 2012 at Country Lane Intermediate Elementary.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma has named Elijah LaRue, a fourth-grade student at Country Lane Intermediate Elementary in Broken Arrow, as an ambassador for the non-profit organization. The Make-A-Wish Ambassador Award honors those who have benefited the foundation through volunteer work and fundraising.
Elijah, 9, was presented with the Ambassador Award at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 9, 2012 during a surprise visit from Jeff Summers, CEO and president of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma. Elijah began collecting money for the foundation last November, according to his mother, Jaime: “He took it upon himself to ask friends, family and neighbors to donate whatever they could. All in all, he raised $144 and is so excited to be giving it to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
Merritt’s Bakery donated cupcakes for Elijah and his classmates to enjoy, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation presented the young philanthropist with a bag of goodies including a T-shirt and toys.
Make-A-Wish Foundation President and CEO Jeff Summers says, “At Make-A-Wish, we believe it is important to recognize young people who want to give. It’s very special to see that philanthropic spirit at such a young age, and we are thrilled to be able to acknowledge Elijah for his donation. One person, no matter how young or old, can make a huge difference.”
Elijah chose to give to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because he wanted to help kids who did not have much hope left. He explains that he was watching the news at school one day and saw that there were kids who needed help. Elijah went home and told his mom he wanted to do something for them. They spread the word to family, friends, fellow students, teachers and school staff, as well as posted on Facebook, that they were raising money for Make-A-Wish. “Elijah has always wanted to help and give everything he has,” says Jaime. “When we told him how Make-A-Wish helps kids who are sick, he knew it was the charity he wanted to give to.” Elijah’s father, Sean, adds that his son has always had a big heart, and he is so proud of him for caring about the lives of others.
When asked if he would be interested in helping others in the future, Elijah replied that the experience was great and he would definitely do it again.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Oklahoma grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since being founded in 1987, the chapter has granted more than 1,900 wishes to eligible Oklahoma children. To find out how you can help the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma, go to www.oklahoma.wish.org for more information.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma finances its endeavors through corporate sponsors, foundations, service clubs, fundraisers and individual contributions. Money raised in Oklahoma remains local to grant the wishes of children throughout the state. The average wish costs approximately $7,500 to grant, so every dollar helps. “One small gift like Elijah’s can go a long way. We continue to make the magic of wishes happen thanks to community-minded corporations, groups and individuals,” says Summers.
There are 65 chapters in the United States and its territories, along with affiliates in 33 countries on five continents. The Make-A-Wish Foundation® estimates a positive impact on more than 300,000 individuals each year.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.