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Help make their wishes come true

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Help make their wishes come true

Riley Simmons after finding out Make-A-Wish Foundation is sending her to Hawaii.

Photo contributed/

POSTED April 6, 2014 11:07 p.m.

A month ago, the Make-A-Wish Foundation brought Riley Simmons’ wildest dreams to life, surprising the 11-year-old cancer survivor with a Hawaiian vacation.

The evening was nothing short of magical, complete with a dash of Disney and surprise reveal.

Donning mouse ears and surrounded by hula dancers, the Simmons family graced the stage at the Winter Wine and Food Fest, where Make-A-Wish CEO Jennifer Stolo presented a video detailing young Simmons’ battle with brain cancer.

Then, she delivered the good news.

The family would spend a week at the Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii, and Riley, a charismatic fifth grader blessed with a fighter’s spirit and a princess’ smile, would swim with dolphins.

Getting them there, though, takes another act of kindness.

Make-A-Wish can’t do it alone, which is why they’ve reached into their communities with a wish of their own.

The Northeastern California and Northern Nevada chapter is asking you to support this month’s Wishes in Flight campaign by donating air miles. The chapter needs 50,000,000 air miles to grant nearly 200 wishes each year, according to a press release. Globally, about 75 percent of all wishes are travel related, with many trips scheduled for the summer months.

Air miles are essential to fulfilling the wishes of those with life-threatening medical conditions.

“Make-A-Wish arranges travel for wish kids to reach their wish destinations, whether it’s to meet a celebrity, go to their favorite theme park, to reconnect with a close friend who moved away or to visit a destination they long to visit,” Stolo said in a release.

“Donating unused airline miles is an easy way for supporters to help us grant children’s wishes and give them an experience that improves the quality of life for them and their families.”

An average domestic ticket takes approximately 50,000 air miles, Make-A-Wish Director of Communications & Outreach Michele Flynn said in the release. To send the Simmons family, for instance, Make-A-Wish would need 250,000 frequent flier miles to offset the cost of travel.

Riley Simmons’ wish does not hinge on this current campaign, and Flynn said the Northeast California and Northern Nevada chapter has never denied a qualified child their wish. “As you can imagine, purchasing air travel is a huge expense,” she said. “So the more we get donated, the more resources we have to grant wishes.”

Though donations are accepted year round, April has been deemed a critical month because it is booking season for summer travel.

According to the release, studies show an estimated 16 trillion frequent flier miles go unused and 25 percent of people allow them to expire. Miles that are donated to Make-A-Wish do not expire.

To donate, those that fly Delta, United and US Airways can visit

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