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Flier miles needed to make wishes realities

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Children with life-threatening illnesses need frequent flier miles to make their wishes come true, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Georgia and Alabama, according to Cara Barfield, spokesperson for Make-A-Wish Foundation Georgia and Alabama.

Barfield said more than 62 percent of wishes granted by the foundation involve travel. She said mileage is not only needed for the children, but also for their families, who tag along on the trips.

"A contribution of frequent flier miles to the Make-A-Wish Foundation is one of the most direct ways to help make a difference in the life of a child with a life-threatening medical condition," said David Williams, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. "The mileage the foundation receives will help provide experiences that wish children and their families will cherish for a lifetime."

Barfield said the foundation is in search of individuals, and companies, to donate their unused frequent flier miles. The foundation grants 300 wishes per year, and needs more than 10 million miles, to make those wishes a reality for children who are battling such illnesses as cancer, sickle cell anemia, brain tumors and liver failures.

"Atlanta is one of our [chapter's] largest areas," said Barfield. "It's a very populated city and we have a lot of hospitals here. We have a lot of sick kids in this area."

Barfield said 50 percent of children in the Alabama and Georgia chapters, have their sights set on Walt Disney World, though there are children who have other locations in mind.

A child from the chapter recently attended two World Cup soccer games in South Africa, with his family, said Barfield. His wish was a possibility because of the frequent flier miles.

Currently, a girl who was adopted from an orphanage in China, is curious about her roots, and wishes to visit the orphanage and tour the nearby town, said Barfield. She has not been able to fly to China, yet, and the foundation is doing its best to collect the miles needed.

Barfield added that the foundation can only afford to grant 300 wishes a year, though there are 600 children whose wishes are pending.

"What is really important is, if we are able to get a lot more flier miles than we budget for, then we can grant more wishes than we budget," she said.

Barfield said companies and individuals can access the donation form by visiting, http://ga-al.wish.org/ways-to-help/donate-treasures. It is a simple document to complete, she added.

According to Barfield, people can fill it out and fax it to: (770) 916-0222, or mail it to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia and Alabama, 1775 The Exchange, S.E., Suite 200, Atlanta.

Companies that would like to form a campaign can forward the form to their colleagues, she said. Typically, employees who donate their mileage are individuals, such as accountants and financial advisors, who frequently travel.

Kathy Hammond, president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Georgia and Alabama, said people can donate 5,000 flier miles, or more, at a time.

"Frequent flier miles are like gold to us," said Hammond.

For more information, call the foundation, at (770) 916-9474.