By Corey Baumgartner
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–If you could have any wish granted, what would it be? Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Utah Foundation (utah.wish.org), four-year-old Ryder received his wish of going to Walt Disney World to meet his favorite Disney characters up close and personal.
Because of the heroic and generous efforts from the community of Cedar City and Lin’s Marketplace, which has raised the most the money out of each of the 42 participating stores in Utah for the past two years, they also got the honor of hosting the surprise party for Ryder and his family.
“We have the most generous guests and are floored by the amount they helped us raise for Make-A-Wish Utah! We wouldn’t be able to help so many children without them,” said Steve Holm, District Manager for Lin’s.
Make-A-Wish Utah, which grants wishes for children facing life-threatening illnesses, has partnered with Associated Retail Operations, which includes: Macey’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market and Fresh Market, since 2010, granting over 100 wishes. Thanks to the generous donations from their guests, not only will Ryder’s wish come true, but because of the total donations from the yearly event, $114,412.61, 22 other Utah children will also have their wishes granted.
Ryder, who was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, arrived earlier in the day with Police and Fire Department escorts and was given a tour of Lin’s not knowing his Walt Disney World wish was about to come true. He thought he was there to just help present the donation check and to congratulate Lin’s “star” cashier Mackenzi Cook, who was awarded vacation package tickets from Walt Disney for being the cashier with the highest grossing donation amount from customers. However, with cheers and tears—the good kind—Ryder soon found out his wish was also coming true.
Jared Perry, Chief Executive Officer of Make-A-Wish Utah, was also there to share the experience with Ryder. “We know these kids and their families are struggling and our mission is to give them hope and something good and fun to look forward to,” he expressed. “Hope helps change their outlook and attitude and our goal is to not just give these children something to look forward to, but something to fight for and the whole community has rallied around this kid.”
Ryder, his family and everyone from the Cedar City Lin’s Marketplace and the Make-A-Wish Utah foundation are very grateful for the generous support from each person in their communities who took time to make a special donation. It has made a world of difference and helps Make-A-Wish to live up to their promise to give hope, strength and joy to children and their families.