BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Over the past nearly three decades, thousands of children battling critical illnesses have had their wishes granted thanks to Make-A-Wish.

“Wishes help kids heal, it’s helping kids fight their battles and it’s medicine for the soul,” said Mary Hazel, Director of Development for Make-A-Wish Western New York. “This coming year we’re hoping to grant between 100 and 120 wishes in Western New York, so obviously that’s a lot of kids with critical illness that will have wishes granted, and we have about 300 kids in our pipeline right now waiting so there’s a lot of need in our community right now.”

The organization is partnering with News 4 and 97 Rock, to hold their 28th annual Radiothon September 29 and 30, where people can hear stories from children whose wishes got granted, and you can call or donate online.

Make-A-Wish encourages people to donate because they believe these wishes help longer than just a moment, they can last a lifetime for these children.

“My wish changed my life,” said Maddie Nadrich, a 2017 Make-A-Wish recipient from East Amherst. “All you can do is a simple call in, and you’ll meet one of our wonderful volunteers and they will take you through the process of donating.”

Nadrich was born with a incurable mitochondrial disease, that means that the ATP in her body doesn’t work as well, causing her to get fatigued easily and her organs in her body are impacted as well. She applied for her wish of learning how to surf in Hawaii, and Make-A-Wish made her dreams come true.

“Not only did I learn how to surf, I got to go parasailing, I swam with dolphins, I went to a luau,” said Nadrich. “Make-A-Wish even surprised me with a trip to the University of Hawaii to meet the softball team which was meaningful to me because I’m on the softball team for college, and I’ve been playing my whole life.”

Nadrich encourages people to donate, but also for other children like her to sign up for Make-A-Wish, as she learned lessons along the way, that make stronger today.

“Over my wish trip, I learned that I can do so much more than I ever thought would be possible with my illness,” said Nadrich. “Just to give those kids a chance like me to learn ‘Hey, this illness does not define you’ you can do so much with your life, despite all the struggles you have.”

Tune in to the Radiothon Thursday and Friday on both News 4 and 97 Rock.

To donate, visit the Make-A-Wish website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.