A Message For Our Readers

Light a Fire Awards 2012
Seattle Met’s first annual celebration of individuals and organizations in the nonprofit community.

Published Oct 12, 2012, 12:23pm


Extraordinary Volunteer
Renae Goettel 
Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington,

What if you could have anything in the world? The Make-A-Wish Foundation asks that of kids with life-threatening illnesses, and Renae Goettel got her shot in 2001. Though a surprising 50 percent of recipients choose to hang with Mickey Mouse, this 16-year-old desperately wanted to meet San Antonio Spurs baller Sean Elliott. It wasn’t just for his game-clinching three-pointers; he was a fellow kidney transplant survivor. Goettel’s rare genetic disorder that necessitated her transplant had also taken her sight, and she had a cancer diagnosis on top of that. Today that ailing teenager (her cancer is now in remission) has matured into a marathon-running professional who moonlights as a wish-granting fairy. Oh, and she’s still pals with the NBA All-Star.
Make-A-Wish volunteers commit to coordinating two wishes annually; Goettel juggled five in her first year. She steels herself to enter the homes of very ill children and coaxes big dreams from them: a Disney World visit for a five-year-old or a Hawaiian vacation for a 12-year-old. “The sky’s the limit, but you have to get at what they really want,” she says. Her celebrity encounter gave her hope, friendship, and the grit to navigate downtown Seattle with her service dog. It’s why she volunteers and makes gala speeches for Make-A-Wish: “You can’t put a price on a wish.” 
Image: Young Lee
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