“Talia is the most active and dedicated wish granter for the Hawaii chapter, but beyond the number of wishes that she grants is an indomitable spirit to love and lift each family she works with,” says Kari Bogner, director of mission delivery at Make-A-Wish Hawaii.
Since 2013, Talia has been instrumental in directly changing the lives of 41 children like Luke on the island of Oahu. Partnering with several other volunteers through Make-A-Wish Hawaii, Talia does more than grant wishes; she gets to know each and every family member, spends time with them, and pays special attention to their interests—even remembering all of their birthdays. “She made it a family affair with her effort to remember things about us as siblings and family members,” Luke’s sister Vic remembers.
Talia keeps up with wish kids past and present, bringing them toys, doing crafts with them, playing games, and attending their events. When asked about the impact of this thoughtfulness, Luke addressed Talia directly: “Talia, thank you for the gifts. I added all the toys to my Star Wars collection. Thank you for coming over to play Wii games with me. I want to thank you for the Make-A-Wish trip; it was the best trip of my life.”
Talia’s kind and generous spirit creates a permanent bond between her and wish families, making cherished memories that last long after the wish. Luke’s dad, David, was taken aback by Talia and fellow wish granter Ja’s efforts. “Without a doubt the most unexpected experience was the aloha given us by Ja’ and Talia,” he says. “They really have become members of our family.”
During the wish journey, there are many opportunities for wish granters like Talia to create these bonds, but one of the most memorable is when they plan a special wish reveal to announce that a child’s wish is coming true. For example, when wish kid Dyllan, who suffers from a nervous system disorder, wished to meet James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Talia planned a particularly meaningful wish reveal, complete with Rockets hats, basketballs, shirts, lanyards, and cake. Says Dyllan’s family, “Talia is special because she goes above and beyond even including the siblings and parents; she would stop by on everyone’s birthdays and help us celebrate!”
Another of Talia’s former wish kids, Ella, says, “We [still] hang out all the time. We go eat Thai food together, we get our nails done, and we even go to the trampoline park together.” Ella has found a lifelong friend in Talia, who helped grant her wish to experience the attractions at Walt Disney World almost two years ago.
While Talia is incredibly humble, volunteers like her are crucial to fulfilling our mission of making life-changing wishes come true for children with critical illnesses. Each volunteer changes lives in his or her own unique way through the journey of a wish. From making unicorn slime with Ella and dueling light sabers with Luke to texting Dyllan when his favorite team is in town, Talia’s special touch is in going “above and beyond,” as we often hear from her wish families.
Wish mom Jardine, whose daughter Jaylee wished to visit her grandfather, says, “I was really shocked how Talia was so friendly and giving to my family. She would go out of her way to make time with us, and everything we did together was and will always be memorable. True compassion.”
Talia’s bright smile and fun-loving personality make it easy for her to connect with every wish family she meets, leaving lasting fond memories for families to cherish.
Luke’s mom Edna summed it up best: “Talia has been there from the beginning. Every moment spent with her is special, and she has become part of the family.”
To make wishes come true and help change lives like Talia, learn more about becoming a wish granter here.