As Michele Garcia stood among family, friends, and countless community supporters waving signs and cheering for her niece Precious, she felt an immediate connection with the Make-A-Wish mission. Precious was fighting a critical respiratory disorder and had wished for the gift of independence through her very own motorized wheelchair—a wish that was granted at Ala Moana Shopping Center during a princess parade seven years ago. As Precious debuted her new wheelchair and made her way through a crowd of supporters, Michele’s heart filled with joy.
“It brought tears to my eyes to see everyone support Precious and to know that this organization can grant magical wishes to children with critical illnesses,” says Michele.
Since then, Michele has been dedicated to honoring her late niece’s legacy by helping to make more incredible wishes like hers come true. And Michele’s support extends into myriad aspects of her life. In addition to volunteering as a wish granter and working directly with local wish keiki and their families to bring their most heartfelt wishes to life, Michele also actively supports our mission through Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, where she works as an entertainment hostess and serves on the Aulani VoluntEARs Leadership Council. As part of the VoluntEARs, Michele has spent numerous hours volunteering at fundraising events like our annual WISH! gala, Jingle Rock Run holiday walk, and Swing for Wishes golf tournament—hours she was able to turn into a $1,000 grant for Make-A-Wish Hawaii.
“To work for a company that supports wishes is amazing!” says Michele. “To think I get to impact others so that more wishes can be granted, my heart is even more filled with joy.”
In addition to encouraging her fellow Aulani employees to rally behind the life-changing impact of a wish, Michele has also brought her family into the mission. She and her husband Wil are both volunteer wish granters and often grant wishes together, going above and beyond to bond with families and create memorable experiences for them. Together, they create personalized signs, gift bags, and shirts and coordinate fun wish reveal parties for their wish kids. A carpenter by day, Wil even assisted with the demolition and construction in a room makeover wish a couple of years ago.
Wil views wish granting as a way to “set an example to our children to always give back to the community.” This is exactly what he and Michele continue to do, most recently by enlisting the support of their son Wesley, who submitted a martial arts routine to our Stars at Home virtual talent show and raised over $200 to grant wishes. Says Michele, “When I explained that he was helping wish keiki, he was excited. It also teaches him that he can be the hope for these keiki and to continue to give back.”
With her entire family and work ‘ohana engaged in the power of a wish, Michele is one of our most dedicated volunteers and supporters. Says Make-A-Wish Hawaii Volunteer Outreach Manager Will Phelps, “Michelle is a fantastic volunteer. Whether leading Aulani's VoluntEARs or granting wishes for our keiki, her support is steadfast and unwavering. We are incredibly grateful for her!”
And Michele hasn’t let COVID-19 get in the way of changing lives. In addition to her son’s support of the virtual talent show and the generous grant she recently secured through her volunteer hours, Michele is continuing to do all she can to spread hope at a time when local keiki need it most.
“I want to maintain Precious’s legacy by inspiring and giving hope,” says Michele. “My message to wish keiki is that they continue to inspire and motivate me, so keep wishing and hoping, stay healthy, and be safe. Your wish is going to be granted!”