Heavy rains over the weekend caused the city to shut down many area streets, trails and parks, including Water Works Park, home to one of central Iowa’s favorite holiday traditions, Make-A-Wish® Iowa’s Jolly Holiday Lights. The event closed for the season on Sunday due to flooding.
“This is Jolly Holiday Light’s twentieth anniversary and the event has dealt with a lot of obstacles and challenges in the past, but never flooding in December,” said Jamie Rasko, marketing & communications manager for Make-A-Wish Iowa. “We never expected something like this would happen.”
The event, which opened in November and was scheduled to be open through January 1st, is the largest fundraiser Make-A-Wish Iowa hosts. Last year, the event raised enough money to grant about forty of the 189 wishes the chapter granted in their fiscal year.
Rasko said that in the past 24 hours, Iowans have been generously trying to help them make up the $200,000 loss the event incurred due to closing early.
“Gifts of every size are helping us to offset the loss we’ve experienced. I’d encourage those who were planning to attend, but couldn’t, to donate what the $10 admission directly to Make-A-Wish Iowa,” said Rasko. “I also need to thank the companies and organizations that sponsored the event in the first place, including our presenting sponsor Hy-Vee, who has been a faithful sponsor through the years. Not one of them have been concerned with anything except how they can help us out. Every donation made, no matter the size, gets us a little closer to our goal.”
CEOs for The Iowa Clinic, Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health came together and issued a video challenge on their Facebook pages for Iowans to get creative on how they show their holiday spirit, post a video or photo and make a donation to Make-A-Wish Iowa to #bringthejolly and help the organization out.
Wells Fargo stepped up shortly after the closure was announced with a $20,000 contribution to help the organization continue to grant wishes. “Jolly Holiday Lights is a wonderful community tradition that benefits a great cause. Although it’s unfortunate the light display had to be canceled, the fundraising goals can still be met if our community rallies around Make-A-Wish,” said Don Pearson, Wells Fargo regional president. “Wells Fargo is thrilled to make a donation that will help this organization continue to grant wishes to kids and their families. We hope others will join us in this effort.”
The support continues to pour in. Prairie Meadows reached out to Make-A-Wish offering $15,000 to help with the organization grant wishes. Gary Palmer, President/CEO shared, “Prairie Meadows believes in the mission of Make-A-Wish as they help grant wishes for children with health issues. This is the biggest fundraising event they have, and as a non-profit company we want to ensure that funding children’s dreams can still happen.”
“It’s really overwhelming for us, the way the community has stepped up to show their support for our wish families. The wish experience can be life-changing for these families, and this community has shown me how quickly a devastating experience can be turned around,” said Rasko. “The event’s loss is large, but this is truly amazing to watch happen.”
Rasko said Make-A-Wish Iowa will honor those who ask for a refund on any tickets they were not able to use, or guests can keep their tickets and they will be honor them at the 2016 event.
About Make-A-Wish Iowa
Make-A-Wish® Iowa grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Foundation has granted wishes to more than 3,000 children with life-threatening medical conditions since 1987 and currently grants a wish in Iowa about every other day. To find out more, visit iowa.wish.org. Share the Power of a Wish®!