BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Make-A-Wish Western New York has granted more than 3,000 wishes -- 100 just last year.
"The people that are the heroes are the kids and the families that despite what they're going through still go through life with this incredible optimism with smiles on their faces," 97 Rock's Rich "Bull" Gaenzler said. He hosts Make-A-Wish Western New York Radiothon.
Bull is one of several "Wish Heroes" this holiday season where he's helping raise money through this campaign. The hope is to continue granting more wishes for years to come.
"Being able to get a wish so that you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want...it really helps kids get stronger," Melissa Beyea said. She was granted her wish four years ago at 14-years-old.
She lives with a critical illness called Mitochondrial Myopathy. It's a neuromuscular disease that impacts her energy levels.
Since she was little, Beyea has loved horses. Her grandmother's ponies, Buddy and Penny, helped her get through the stress of constant doctor's appointments and hospital stays.
But when her grandmother died, the family wasn't going to be able to keep them. That's when Make-A-Wish WNY stepped in.
"That day we got that call was a big relief and a stress relief from us and a burden lifted from our shoulders," Beyea's dad, David, said.
7 Eyewitness News was there when she was granted her wish. For two years, wish granters boarded her ponies at the Southtowns Equestrian Center. Now at 18, she still has both ponies after her family was able to move to a home with a stable.
"It gave me a lot of hope when I was younger and I was able to get through a lot of stuff," she said.
Aside from boarding her ponies, she also asked to have senior photos taken with her pony Penny. Her entire wish, she said, is something she will be forever grateful for.
"It's very nice to see that other people want to help and they want to be a blessing to you," she added.
Two of her sister were also granted wishes.
“Family needs to stick together and Make-A-Wish makes that possible," David said.
Bull added, "They can take away from those experience these life changing experiences that will make them better." He continued, "And that's why folks, through January 6th our holiday drive you should think about giving a buck or $5 bucks or $10 bucks. Whatever you can afford to Make-A-Wish this holiday season.
7 Eyewitness News reporter Nikki DeMentri is also a Wish Hero this holiday season.
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