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Make-a-Wish families, donors, enjoy a day on the lake



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The New England Home-Brewers Jamboree crew present their annual check to the NH Make a Wish chapter. This year, the group raised more than $7,000 at their annual event. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
September 21, 2011
LACONIA — Make a Wish Foundation of NH directors and sponsors invited their major donors and Wish Families to join their sixth annual Mount Washington Thank You Cruise on Sunday, Sept. 18.

According to Coordinator Julie Baron, the cruise is not a charity event, and the Wish crew does not typically take any donations during the event. She explained that the cruise was started to thank their major donors who give more than $1,000 over the year, and to give them an opportunity to meet the children and families they help support.

Once the Mount left the Weirs docks, Baron and Wish directors welcomed everyone aboard as they all enjoyed a buffet lunch.

"We can't do what we do without you," said Board Chair Laurie Storey-Manseau, thanking the generous donors. "I hope you are all having a wonderful time."

They thanked the major sponsor of the cruise, Tom Raffio, President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, who makes the cruise possible each year.

"It's great to see all the children and families here," said Raffio, assuring the crowd that his company would continue to sponsor the cruise as long as everyone had a great time.

Raffio sponsored the past five Wish cruises, and said the event still carries great meaning for him.

"This is the most moving and fun day of the year for me," said Raffio. "I'm starting to get to know everyone. It's great to see the same people coming back every year."

He also praised Make a Wish for making it easy for anyone to help out in some way and do something special for a Wish child.

"Whatever your talents are, you can get involved," he said encouragingly.

One familiar face was Faith, who had her wish granted by the NH Make a Wish chapter, and has attended the past five cruises. She and her family went to Disney World in Florida thanks to the many donors to the NH chapter. The trip was especially meaningful because her whole family was able to go, including Faith's older brother, whom she did not get to see much because he was away attending college.

Faith said she chose to visit Disney World because she wanted to see the dolphins at Epcot. Faith is interested in aquatic animals, and wants to be a marine veterinarian.

Donors truly do range in talents and even age, but no matter how they set off to raise money, they all have the same intentions: to help grant a wish.

This inspired two young sisters, Abby and Victoria Grinnings, to start a coin-drive at their school. They raised about $4,000 by placing milk jugs in each classroom, and encouraging fellow students to donate their pocket-change each day. According to the sisters, the class that raised the most received a class pizza or ice cream party.

According to their father, Lester Grinnings, the girls' goal each winter is to beat the previous year, and so-far, they have succeeded.

"It's amazing how many people want to help, especially in-light of the economic times," said Grinnings. "The community really gets behind the idea."

The two sisters are also very involved each winter with the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, which is also associated with the Make a Wish Foundation.

Using their unique talents, the New England Home-Brewers donated a giant check for $7,100 from funds raised during their 15th annual home-brewers jamboree on Sept. 10.

According to jamboree coordinator Ed Ramshaw and home-brewer John Dever, all proceeds for the jamboree every year go to the NH Make a Wish Foundation. Their Jamboree includes home-brew clubs from all over New England, as well as some local micro breweries. They have an annual competition for the best brew, in which 370 brewers particapated.

Another group of annual doners on-board was the NH electric Co-op, represented by Director Audrey Simpson.

According to Simpson, the Co-op gives about $5,000 each year to the local Make a Wish chapter, and has donated about $20,000 since 2006. This year, Co-op employees donated a sum of $5,300 rasied through donations and a 5K charity road race.

Around the ship were food and goodies such as cookies and brownies and different activities, mucic and dancing, a hula-hoop contest and special guests, such as two Miss NH pageant winners and a group of pirates. All make the ride more enjoyable.

Make a Wish NH is working to grant wish number one-thousand.

According to former chairman Frank Tansey, the NH chapter currently grants about 97 wishes per year, and has the potential to grant up to 100 wishes per year. They have granted 978 wishes, and are soon celebrating the 25th anniversary of the NH chapter.

According to Tansey, they started out granting 15 to 20 wishes per year, and the chapter has continued to grow, but so has the price tag. He said the cost of granting wishes has gone from about $1,000 to $30,000, and the generosity of their donors continues to grow in importance to the foundation.

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