Local organization still granting wishes for families in need

May 29, 2020

While the mission of Rhode Island’s A Wish Come True has been to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, getting on a plane or meeting heroes in person is impossible due to COVID-19. And while some wishes may be granted if they fit into today’s recommended safety guidelines, A Wish Come True has always adapted their wish model to help families in the ways they need it now.

Mary-Kate O’Leary is the CEO of A Wish Come True. She says that wishes have always been about helping families and — thanks to community donations — that’s exactly what they’ll keep on doing, adapting as they always have.

“For 38 years, A Wish Come True has been providing wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Over the years, we have seen the purpose of the wish change and we have been adapting,” said O’Leary. “In the 1980s, the ‘Wish’ tended to be a ‘last wish’ for the child and their family.


“Today, with more modern technology, our children are surviving. Due to this, the ‘Wish’ has become an opportunity to bring hope and something to look forward to for the family, an opportunity to get away and relax and build incredible memories,” she added. “Once the family returns, they are so excited and can’t thank us enough for the best trip ever imagined, but then, they may return to treatments and their ‘normal’ routine of dealing with their sick child.”

O’Leary says that once they are back from their trip or experience, worry and stress resurface. They experience financial, emotional and physical hardship and put themselves last. That’s why it’s so important that A Wish Come True provides additional, ongoing resources for families — always part of their plan.

“COVID-19 made us do this faster and wishes are being re-imagined. Families right now are incredibly anxious to protect their sick child,” said O’Leary. “For them, it is the life or death of their child. They don’t want to leave their house. They are afraid and the stress is building to extremes.”

Thanks to donations from the community and beyond, A Wish Come True is now providing additional resources to families that include groceries, support groups for parents, Facebook support groups, stress management workshops and check-in calls to families.

They’re also arranging fun activities and events, like birthday brigades and Pajama Bingo. Before Easter, A Wish Come True provided families with gift certificates to help them with their needs because the No. 1 need was money for groceries, as many were laid off with no income.

“We are also re-imagining the wishes, in case traveling on a plane is not an option in the near future,” explained O’Leary. “Over 80% of our families flew to Florida to visit our partners at Give Kids the World and went to Disney, Universal and SeaWorld. A task force made up of Wish Parents are exploring local wishes, as well as day trips for the interim. If we can raise enough money, increasing resources locally can be done.”

The Meghan Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund

The organization has established The Meghan Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund to help families directly so that they can, in turn, help their child.

“It’s about life or death. It is that simple,” said O’Leary. “They have lived with this since their child was diagnosed with their illness. In fact, we are now experiencing what they have had to deal with all along: the fear, the anxiety, the caution of your interactions. We have to get resources to the parents and family as they need to stay strong for their sick child.”

Staying strong is at least easier, thanks to the Meghan Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund, says O’Leary.

“Our board chair, Colleen Duffy, and her husband, Frank, lost their beautiful daughter at age 11 to cancer,” she said. “The Meghan Duffy Foundation has been providing resources to families since she passed. Colleen immediately stepped up and said ‘Let’s make this happen’ and we created the Meghan Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund for families.

“The Ironworkers Local #37 were a key contributor as well. To date, we have raised $5,500 and we have given out over $4,300 to 14 families in need,” O’Leary added. “This happened immediately in April. Our goal is to raise more funds so we can support more families.”

Although the needs are great, the families do not ask for help.

“They have such pride, and they are in the mode of, ‘We will do what it takes to get through this.’ They don’t realize resources are here for them,” O’Leary said. “Some things are basic things we take for granted. If you are on an extremely tight budget, and you have a little extra cash this month, will you buy the needed towels and rugs for your bathroom or will you buy extra groceries or maybe even go out to dinner with your family? This is their reality, so the basics are real. We provided one family with towels — as they only had three towels — shower curtains, rugs, pots and pans and gift certificates, so they could choose their own things. When COVID-19 struck, we reached out to the families again and we decided to create the Hardship Fund immediately.”

As many in the community look for ways to help others during the COVID-19 crisis, A Wish Come True offers a way to make a difference through a simple donation.


“During COVID-19, many people are saying, ‘Well, at least we have our health.’ Our Wish Families cannot say that,” O’Leary explained. “They are in protection mode, living in daily fear. Their fear and pressure is real. They need us more now than ever.

“Their ‘Wish’ today is to get assistance to get through this. Now is the time to make home safe for these families,” she added. “Imagine being at home quarantined and you don’t have pots and pans or towels. Now is the time to make their homes their sanctuary, and we need the community’s help in making this happen. Donors can be partof the individual family needs by adopting a family and making their dreams matter.”

Help local families today through A Wish Come True’s Meghan Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund. Many families need help now, more than ever, so they can take care of their children safely, comfortably and with the support they need.

A Wish Come True, Inc., is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization founded on Oct. 8, 1982. Our mission is to grant one memorable wish to children, between the ages of 3 through 18, suffering from a life-threatening illness. A Wish Come True, Inc., was the first organization of its kind in Rhode Island. It started with 12 wishes, and now provides 30 a year. Visit us online to learn more.

Local volunteers will have 26th Annual Dinner Dance to help Wish Kids — no matter what!

April 28, 2020

Twenty-seven years ago, a chance meeting at Disney World got James Cavanaugh involved with A Wish Come True, an organization dedicated to granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

While standing in line at Disney, Cavanaugh and his wife found themselves talking to the father of a young boy who was very ill. “The father looked familiar to me,” Cavanaugh said. “Come to find out, he lived two streets over from me (back in Massachusetts).”

The father told the Cavanaughs about his son and how he’d longed for a trip to Disney. “The doctors told (the boy’s father) that there was nothing more they could do,” Cavanaugh recalled. “He’s terminal. His son asked him if, before he goes to God, if he could go meet Mickey Mouse. He wanted to go to Disney.”

But the family had spent all of their money and refinanced their home to pay for their son’s treatments.

“He had to tell his son, ‘No.’ Because, at the time, he was broke, he had no money,” Cavanaugh said. “But he explained to me that one of his neighbors knew about the A Wish Come True organization and they granted his wish.”

It was then that Cavanaugh realized he was seeing a child’s wish come true — right before his eyes. This boy had made it to Disney.

“I was talking to the little boy and that kid was just the happiest kid on the face of the Earth, no matter how sick he was,” Cavanaugh said. “My friends and myself, we’ve done a lot of fundraising for political events, and we were experienced in that, so my bags weren’t even unpacked. When I landed, I called A Wish Come True and asked them if they needed help.”

Today, Cavanaugh is on the board of directors for A Wish Come True, launching its 26th annual dinner dance fundraiser so that more local children could experience what he saw that day: a wish coming true.

Hear Directly From One Of Our Wish Moms

March 11, 2020

Today we’re meeting Jerilyn Duprius and her family. The Duprius family has been touched by a rare disease that’s impacted both their children. The disease causes tumors to form in the vital organs of their body; both children have had tumors in their heart, brain, and now in the kidneys.

But thanks to A Wish Come True, both of the Duprius kids have had a chance to live out their dreams and forget that their disease even existed.


For Friars, it’s about making wishes come true

January 05, 2020

There's a special Polar Plunge going on at Second Beach in Newport this New Years Day.

A Wish Come True has been around for 16 years and their looking to make their biggest impact, and big splash to start off 2020. The organization is the oldest wish granting organization in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and wishes over 30 children a wish every year. This New Years Day their looking to help Henry, a 4-year-old boy battling a brain condition.

You can help them grant Henry's wish by showing up and taking the plunge New Year's Day or by donating on their website at aWish.org.

Swansea, Dighton residents among brave souls at Newport polar plunge

January 02, 2020

NEWPORT — Bob Henrique of Dighton recently turned 55, and on New Year’s Day, standing on the shore of Easton’s Beach, he said 2020 is his “year of making things happen.”

“I’m going to do stuff like this,” Henrique said, about 20 minutes prior to plunging in the icy waters of the Atlantic for the Polar Bear Plunge, an annual charity event in which people don their swim trunks in the dead of winter and take a dip in the ocean. All proceeds from this year’s event benefit “A Wish Come True,” an organization that grants wishes to children with serious illnesses in Rhode Island, and a young boy named Henry, who is fighting cancer.

Eric Betz of Newport and his wife Siobhan huddled close beneath a blanket as they waited to take the plunge; Siobhan’s shock of blue hair was visible and whipped in the wind beneath her numerous layers.

“Cleansing off a rough decade,” Siobhan said of her reason for participating. She’d brave the waters on Wednesday with her husband, her father and nine-year-old daughter.

Though some stripped down to their bathing suits well before the 10-second countdown, Richard Callas of Middletown said he’d keep his jacket on right up until the signal. Wednesday marked his first time as a participant in the Polar Bear Plunge. Callas would catch wind of the event in years past and think “I should have done that,” he said of the charitable plunge.

Freezing For A Reason - Studio 10

December 28, 2019

There's a special Polar Plunge going on at Second Beach in Newport this New Years Day.

A Wish Come True has been around for 16 years and their looking to make their biggest impact, and big splash to start off 2020. The organization is the oldest wish granting organization in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and wishes over 30 children a wish every year. This New Years Day their looking to help Henry, a 4-year-old boy battling a brain condition.

You can help them grant Henry's wish by showing up and taking the plunge New Year's Day or by donating on their website at aWish.org.

Freezing For A Reason // Ep. 180 "Car Pooling with Ben"

December 28, 2019

Freezing For A Reason // Ep. 180 "Car Pooling with Ben"

Join me & kick off 2020 with refreshing plunge at Easton's Beach in Newport, RI for A Wish Come True's 16th Annual Polar Plunge-Helping Henry! #PolarPLunge

A Wish Come True, Inc.'s Executive Director Mary Kate O'Leary shares all about the event, including the afterparty at O'Brien's Pub with special guests from Rhode Island Comic Con!

Car Pooling with Ben is presented by #NIROPE and Cardi's Furniture & MattressesSee Less

May Announcements

May 21, 2019

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that I have been the Executive Director of A Wish Come True for five months now! change creates uncertainty, but we can assure you that A Wish Come True is committed to our vision and our goals of helping kids and their families. The Board of Directors and I can promise you that A Wish Come True is on the rise! There is new energy, new ideas, & it is a new day for us all!

Introducing our new Executive Director, Mary-Kate O'Leary

December 18, 2019

We are very excited to introduce our new Executive Director, Mary-Kate O’Leary.

Cruizin' for a Cause goes into high gear for A Wish Come True

August 09, 2018

Although Old Man Weather hasn’t been kind to the Johnston Street Machines during the 2018 Cruisin’ for a Cause season, the non-profit brought a smile to the face of Debbie Richard last Thursday night.

Bowl-a-thon raises $1,500 for patients

June 23, 2018

A Wish Come True sponsored their first “Bowling for WISHES” Bowl-A-Thon on Saturday, June 23 at Lang’s Bowlarama, located at 225 Niantic Ave., in Cranston. Approximately 35 people participated, raising approximately $1,500 dollars.

Mark Patinkin: Her wish is to meet Taylor Swift, but she’s an inspiration herself

May 30, 2018

Ella Integlia is 13 and fighting off lymphoblastic leukemia. Her dream is to meet Taylor Swift.

David Price, Red Sox lefty, wants cancer survivor and 'fighter' Ella to meet her idol Taylor Swift

May 21, 2018

BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher David Price wants 13-year-old Ella Integlia to meet her idol, singer Taylor Swift.

Price and Ella met a couple springs ago when Ella and other Jimmy Fund patients made their annual visit to Red Sox spring training camp in Fort Myers.

Ella's wish to meet her idol Taylor Swift

May 18, 2018

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WJAR) — A teenage girl who’s in remission after battling leukemia is asking for help granting her wish to meet Taylor Swift.

Ella Integlia, 13, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.

Matt Light Foundation, Bruins Alumni and Little Heroes Spotlight A Wish Come True

March 24, 2018

For the 4th time in as many years, The Light Foundation and The Little Heroes Fund teamed up with the Boston Bruins Alumni for their annual Light Heroes Bruins Alumni Charity Game at Providence College’s Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island. Almost seamlessly, these three great organizations deliver an entertaining and heartwarming family event, while providing the opportunity to see Boston Bruins legends skate with some of the best local RI hockey players.

Michaela meets SNL Writer and Comedian Colin Jost!

December 29, 2017

On December 8th, 19-year-old Michaela Sullivan and her family traveled from North Kingstown to New York City to watch a live taping of the historic comedy sketch program Saturday Night Live.


“Since I’d been a kid, it’s been my dream to work there,” Sullivan says.

The trip was provided by the Rhode Island wish-granting organization, A Wish Come True. 

Joseph Spiezio Adds Support for 'A Wish Come True' Pediatric Cancer Organization

July 11, 2017

Until now, Joseph Spiezio has kept his personal life relatively quiet. However, a recent article has shed some light on his passion for helping families who are dealing with serious illness.

Cranston East senior class presented a $5,000 check to A Wish Come True for Justen’s Wish.

June 15, 2017

Debbie Richard from A Wish Come True was on hand at Cranston East on May 31 as the entire senior class presented a $5,000 check to the organization for Justen’s Wish.

Historic moments for the senior class at Cranston East

February 01, 2017

The Cranston High School East senior class council along with faculty adviser Andrea DiCicco were proud to announce that the class had reached their goal of providing a free prom to every senior who is eligible and had achieved several other goals as well. To leave a lasting legacy behind, the class has chosen to do one final fundraising push to grant the wish of a local child through the organization, “A Wish Come True.”

Local athlete and cancer patient has ‘big’ wish granted

January 26, 2017

Bobby has always been an athlete. Before heading to the University of Alabama to throw for the track team, grew up playing football in Rhode Island. True fans, he and his father are headed to the big game, a trip made possible by the A Wish Come True Organization.

WACTC makes a little girl’s playhouse wish come true

January 04, 2017

For 8-year-old Julia, the “wish” was her dream playhouse: a two-story rainbow-covered miniature home complete with a double balcony and a pulley system to transport snacks and toys to the second floor...

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1010 Warwick Ave

Warwick, RI 02888


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1010 Warwick Ave. Warwick RI,  02888

A Wish Come True grants wishes and provides resources to families with a child age 3-18 who is struggling
with a life threatening illness, living in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

CARES ACT: Expanded charitable giving deductions for 2020. Individuals can deduct charitable donations up to 100% of their 2020 AGI.

Corporations can deduct charitable donations up to 25% of taxable income in 2020.