Delaware resident Barbara Hess will be honored at Make-A-Wish’s first Women Inspiring Strength and Hope luncheon on Thursday.
The luncheon will honor 20 central Ohio women who have each raised at least $8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Each woman has been paired with a local child and is responsible for raising the funds to grant the child’s wish.
Hess has been paired with a 10-year-old boy, Gabe Nutter, was has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Gabe’s dream is to visit Disney World as this “is something he really wanted to do with his family,” according to Hess.
Although this is Hess’ first year of working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she has been working to raise money to benefit cancer patients since 2009, when her mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects plasma cells in the blood. According to Hess, seeing a cure for multiple myeloma is one of her two goals in life. The other is to see the Cleveland Browns win a Super Bowl, she said, with a laugh.
Hess has held several fundraising efforts throughout the year, including a tailgating event at a University of Michigan game where Gabe got to spend the day with Phil Brabbs, former University of Michigan place kicker. Brabbs, who has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and Gabe bonded over their love of football and their experiences with illness.
Hess’ last fundraising effort was a Texas hold ’em tournament Saturday at O’Nelly’s Sports Pub and Grill in Lewis Center. All proceeds benefit Gabe’s trip to Disney World.
Hess said that she was originally hesitant when approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation but that she was inspired when she realized that granting a wish for a child does not mean that it has to be the child’s last wish. She was also inspired when she learned about the positive effects that receiving a wish could have on patients.
As Doug Kelly, president and CEO for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Indiana & Kentucky, explained, according to a press release: “Wishes strengthen kids in their battles against life-threatening medical conditions. A granted wish is an essential part of the treatment process. In fact, 89 percent of medical professionals say that the wish experience positively influences wish kids’ physical health.”
“It seems like, you know, in the world we’re divided by many things but one thing we find a lot of consistency in is when people rally around children and Make-A-Wish allows you to do that,” said Hess, who hopes that the community will continue to rally around Gabe.