SDFU members make a wish come true for Lower Brule boy

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Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. — South Dakota Farmers Union members donated $5,000 to Make-A-Wish South Dakota and helped make Toby’s wish to go to Walt Disney World come true.

Toby is 11 and lives with his family in Lower Brule. Toby faces dilated cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening medical condition. He is among 53 other South Dakota youth who had their wishes granted in 2016 thanks to the generosity of South Dakotans, explains Paul Krueger, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota.

“We really believe that wishes are essential for kids with life-threatening medical conditions. Wishes give hope, strength and joy to those children and their families,” Krueger explains.

South Dakota Farmers Union raised the $5,000 through donations given during the Farmers Share Luncheon held during the 2016 South Dakota State Fair, as well as additional donations from members.

Like Farmers Union, Make-A-Wish is a grassroots organization which relies heavily upon a volunteer network of nearly 200 and donations from individuals and organizations to keep granting wishes.

A wish close to home

Since it began in South Dakota in 1984, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 1,225 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions across the state. Twenty-one years ago one of those wishes went to Tanya Hofhenke, South Dakota Farmers Union Executive Director’s daughter.

“I credit Make-A-Wish for saving her,” says Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director.

At the time Tanya was only 14 and had been diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.

“She was out of town attending an FBLA Convention when I got a call from one of the chaperones asking permission to take Tanya to the emergency room because she was having trouble breathing,” recalls Karla of how the scary journey began.

It was about four months later while Tanya was undergoing treatments when someone referred her to Make-A-Wish.

“She had a great attitude, but the prognosis was not looking good. Her wish gave her something to look forward to,” Hofhenke says.

Although the doctor wanted her to go on her Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii within the month, Tanya said she didn’t want to go until her treatments were over.

“The wish helped her get through treatments,” Hofhenke says.

Tanya got through cancer; she has been diagnosed as cured, is cancer free and today, at 37, she works as an accountant in Kimball.

More about Make-A-Wish

To have a wish granted, children can be referred by any medical professional, a parent or guardian, or can refer themselves to Make-A-Wish.

Once they are referred, Make-A-Wish confirms with their doctor that their condition is life-threatening and meets their criteria. Once this is confirmed they work with the child to discover what their wish is and then grant it.

Wishes can be anything from travel and meeting a celebrity to receiving a specific item ­ like a Rainbow Play Station – or being a Popstar for a day.

“You name it ­ the kids will think of it,” Krueger explains.

Making magic happen for children isn’t cheap. On average a wish costs nearly $7,000. Make-A-Wish ensures that when it’s applicable, the child, his or her parents and immediate siblings living at home are part of the wish.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish, visit http://southdakota.wish.org.