Tak­ing fundrais­ing ef­forts to new heights

Hav­ing seen first­hand the im­pact of Make-A-Wish ex­pe­ri­ences, Elmira teen set to rap­pel down Water­loo high­rise

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - LIZ BE­VAN

ELMIRA TEEN AM­BER OWENS Hughes will be rap­pelling her way down all 58 me­tres of the Mars­land Cen­tre in Water­loo for more than just the fun of it – she’s got a good cause in mind.

She’ll be at the eighth tallest build­ing in the re­gion on May 12 for Rope for Hope – an an­nual fundrais­ing cam­paign for Make-A-Wish Canada, which grants wishes for chil­dren with life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions, pro­vid­ing dream trips and life ex­pe­ri­ences. They have granted 6,864 wishes so far.

For Hughes, the cause is per­sonal.

In 2015, Hughes was the re­cip­i­ent of her own wish from the foun­da­tion, tak­ing a fam­ily trip to Hol­ly­wood. It was the per­fect trip for Hughes – she is pas­sion­ate about film­mak­ing. The trip gave Hughes and her fam­ily hope and a hol­i­day.

“We stayed at the West Hol­ly­wood Ho­tel, and the lobby looked like it was on Home Alone. It was so pretty. Every­thing in the room was film themed,” she de­scribed.

Now she wants to help other kids ex­pe­ri­ence the same feel­ing. She is al­ready half­way to her $1,500 fundrais­ing goal.

“It made me re­al­ize that every­thing isn’t as bad as it may seem. On your worst days, you can look back on those memories and say, ‘I want to go there again,’ and I was so healthy that week, and it felt so good be­ing near the wa­ter at Santa Mon­ica Pier,” she said.“It is just a re­minder that things aren’t so bad. The foun­da­tion helps a lot with kids and teens who are sick. It gives them hope and lifts their spir­its. On those days that you feel re­ally dis­cour­aged and not feel­ing well, to­mor­row can be a bet­ter day.”

Hughes’ mother, Joan, says the foun­da­tion also pro­vides a spe­cial kind of sup­port for fam­i­lies with chil­dren who are ter­mi­nally ill.

“It is a nice time to en­joy your fam­ily if that is the last mo­ments you have to­gether if some­thing should hap­pen,” she said.

Hughes was di­ag­nosed with pri­mary cil­iary dysk­i­ne­sia, a ge­netic lung disease that pre­vents the cilia in her re­s­pi­ra­tory tracts from mov­ing. It makes her prone to re­s­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses. Those with pri­mary cil­iary dysk­i­ne­sia gen­er­ally need lung trans­plants by the time they are 30. She was born with pneu­mo­nia and a black­ened lung, but it took 11 years for the doc­tors to catch it. Nowa­days, she is do­ing bet­ter, but still has some bad days.

“I am al­right, but I miss a lot of school from be­ing sick, and it is kind of hard to keep up by I am man­ag­ing,” she said. “All the dust, bac­te­ria and mu­cus and stuff gets trapped in my body, so they use ma­chines or cough to get it out. It is like hav­ing a re­ally bad ch­est cold, but all the time.”

Work­ing through a life­time of de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­ness, the Make-A-Wish foun­da­tion re­ally helped Hughes, and next week, she will be giving back in a way that reaches new heights.

“It is pretty ex­cit­ing,” she said. “I am kind of ner­vous, but I feel like it would be a lot of fun. I like those rides at the amuse­ment park that start high and go down. I just thought it would be a re­ally fun way to raise money to give back to Make-A-Wish.”

Joan is a bit ner­vous about the event, and says she is hop­ing that the wind stays down on May 12.

“I looked at the build­ing the other day and I thought, ‘that is a big, big build­ing,’” she laughed.

To help Am­ber reach her $1,500 goal, visit makeaw­ishca.donor­drive. com and search ‘AM­BER’ to do­nate.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

Am­ber Owens Hughes is giving back to a cause that helped her when she needed it, the Make-A-Wish foun­da­tion, which sent her on a trip to Hol­ly­wood.

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