The positive impact of receiving a wish often stays with a child long after their wish has been granted. For John Schafer, now 30 and living in Chicago, a teenage wish experience had such a strong effect on him and his family that it inspired him to stay involved with Make-A-Wish® as a member of the Make-A-Wish Illinois Associate Board.
A former wish child, John can relate to many of the wish children and families touched by Make-A-Wish and feels a strong personal connection with the organization’s mission to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
John was a 16-year-old high school student living in Pittsburgh when he was diagnosed with bone cancer and referred to Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. While he underwent treatments, John found an escape from dealing with cancer by playing golf. After being pronounced cancer-free one year after his diagnosis, John received his wish to attend John Jacobs’ Golf School in Arizona. In 2000, Make-A-Wish sent John and his family on a five-day trip where John and his twin brother, Jason, attended golf school and enjoyed other activities as a family. The trip was a fun family experience that helped John and his family recuperate, relax, and bond after a very difficult year.
“Through my wish experience, I was able to look at the life-changing experience in a positive light,” John says. “I realized that everything happens for a reason and that there are so many good people in this world that want to make a difference in the lives of others. My wish encouraged me to stay strong and help others fight against their illnesses.”
Currently, John works as an accountant at Ernst & Young LLP. He and his wife Dana married in 2013 and live in Chicago.