Make-A-Wish grants local teen Hawaiian getaway

By Nicole Michaud - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Wed., Feb. 16, 2011
Sean's wish granters, Kathy Allen and Helena Friedman, also joined the event.
Sean's wish granters, Kathy Allen and Helena Friedman, also joined the event.

To fellow diners at Chili’s on Feb. 11, it may have just looked like another luau-themed birthday party, but to the Mackey family, this celebration was much more. Decked out in Hawaiian leis and straw hats, Make-A-Wish granters Kathy Allen and Helena Friedman were making 15-year old Sean’s wish come true. On Feb. 19, Sean, his parents and a friend will be chauffeured to the airport for a week-long adventure on Hawaii’s big island.

Sean was diagnosed at birth with severe hemophilia, a lifelong disorder that prevents his blood from clotting properly.  Since he was 8 years old, he has been administering his own injections of clotting factor to reduce the risks of the condition. While his treatment has since become manageable, that was not always the case.  “It was tough in the beginning,” his mother, Denise Macke, recalled. “Now he’s doing great. We’ve been very lucky.”

After a friend and fellow hemophilia patient returned from a cruise funded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sean became curious about the program that has been granting wishes for children with life-threatening conditions for more than 30 years. With a little help from his mother, his hope to visit a place that seemed physically and financially too far away was almost within reach. Sean and his family were visited by wish granting volunteers Allen and Friedman to learn more about his condition and his wish. After being screened by his doctor and approved for the trip, his desire to see the volcanoes in person became a reality. During his wish party, Sean’s wish officially came true. In addition to the hotel and airfare for his paradise getaway, Sean was also given an iPod Shuffle, spending money, and an adventure-filled itinerary that included zip-lining, snorkeling and a helicopter tour. 

While his life has been affected by his disorder, Sean maintains a positive outlook and believes hemophilia has opened his world to new people and places. As a member of the New England Hemophilia Association, he’s traveled to annual meetings around the country.  When asked about his emotions with less than a week before takeoff, Sean stated he and his family are more thankful than anything else. “It’s going to be a good experience. I’m really grateful,” he said. His mother, Denise, agreed. “We definitely plan on giving back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation by volunteering and giving back to the other kids that are coming along,” she said.

The Mackey’s aren’t the only ones celebrating, as 2011 marks the 25th year the Connecticut Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation has enriched the lives of children by granting wishes that range from shopping sprees to meeting celebrities. Chapter communications manager Michael Dominick, who also attended the wish granting party, said that the statewide division is approaching its 2,000th wish. “It’s a bittersweet feeling, though, because ideally I’d be out of a job because there’d be no wishes to grant,” Dominick said. According to Dominick, the chapter hopes to award more wishes than the 150 granted in 2010.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes for children between the ages of 2 and a half and 18 with verifiable life threatening conditions. Wish granting referrals may be submitted online by parents, social workers, medical professionals or children themselves. For more information, contact Make a Wish foundation at A portion of Sean’s gift giving celebration dinner was funded by employee donations at Windsor’s Chili’s location. Avalon Limousine also donated their chauffeur service to and from the airport for the family.

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