WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new Jersey Mike’s location in Williamsville is celebrating the transformative power of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Two local Wish Kids were at the special grand opening on Wednesday to connect with customers and staff.
Gia and Tomaso were adopted from China and have been fighting heart conditions for most of their lives. The charismatic brother-sister duo got a tour of the kitchen at Jersey Mike’s, helped pass out cookies and saw how things operate behind the counter.
“I am actually at a loss for words,” Tomaso said. “My favorite thing was the cash register.”
“You get to see how they actually make the food which gets you more interested in it,” Gia said.
It’s part of a five-day fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. The sub shop has been partnering with Make-A-Wish chapters across the U.S. for over 15 years.
“What we’re about is giving and we don’t just say that, we really do mean it,” said Glenn Florczak, Operating Partner at Jersey Mike’s Subs. “We always like to take a step back and realize that we are here to give as much as we possibly can. So we always team up with local schools, local charities as much as we can to make a difference in their lives and to make a difference in ours.”
Jersey Mike’s staff spent the week sprinkling special coupons around the neighborhood to get people to come in and grab a sub — all to help kids like Gia and Tomaso.
“Before every grand opening, the Monday before, we kind of go out to every business that we possibly can go to within a two, three-mile radius and we just want to welcome everyone to our store,” Florczak said. “We have a $3 coupon. They come in and they get a free regular sub and then all the proceeds go to Make-A-Wish.”
Wish by wish, thousands of kids across Western New York are given the hope, strength and courage to face the road ahead and keep on fighting.
“Most of these kids have no decision-making in their own lives. It’s doctors telling them when their next treatment is, when their next surgery is,” said Mary Hazel, Director of Development at Make-A-Wish Western New York. “But when Make-A-Wish comes into their lives, they’re really giving them a pretty powerful piece of decision-making. ‘If you have one wish, what is it?’ What that does for a child is pretty empowering.”
Gia wished for a Siberian kitten named Goldberry, and Tomaso’s wish to go to Walt Disney World will soon be granted — both life-changing moments made possible because of Make-A-Wish and supporters like Jersey Mike’s.
“Granting a wish really does take a village,” Hazel said. “A wish is a very powerful gift to give a child and their family and we couldn’t do it without community support. So seeing things like this opening and having them give back, it’s a pretty special, beautiful thing.”
The fundraising effort runs through Sunday, May 28. It’s only happening at the new shop located at 5712 Main Street in Williamsville. If you do not have the special coupon, you can find a flyer on the Make-A-Wish Facebook page.
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Jordan Norkus is an award-winning anchor who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.