KALAMAZOO, Mich. – After her ill granddaughter’s wish to swim with dolphins was fulfilled, Wendy Rehm Comar has done more to pay it forward than anyone could expect.
Comar has been a PNC Bank employee for 23 years and also describes herself as a “wish grantor” for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Michigan. She became a volunteer in 2011 with this organization that grants wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions after experiencing firsthand, the wonderful distraction joy can be to a child in distress.
“My granddaughter Lucy was born with congenital heart disease requiring her to endure a major series of surgeries and much time in the hospital,” Comar said.
The girl, then seven years old, had her dream of swimming with dolphins fulfilled by Make-A- Wish, when she and her entire family travelled from their Illinois home to Florida to enjoy four stress-free days.
Soon after this moving experience, Comar became a volunteer. “When I found out I could train to meet with families and kids to help make wishes come true, I knew I’d found my place.”
Since then, Comar has worked to grant the wishes of 25 children around the country – and her granddaughter is 12 years old and doing well.
Comar, a quality assurance manager in PNC’s commercial credit services division, spends a few hours each week working on the cases of up to six “wish kids” at a time.
Researching trips, working with vendors and filling out paperwork takes a great deal of time. She also employs her talents to enhance dreams by arranging pre-vacation parties, creating countdown calendars and keeping the children involved as the planning for their dreams unfolds.
Building excitement is my favorite part of the job. I love to hear the happiness in their voices as they realize that I’m really coming through for them.
The biggest wish Comar has granted to-date was on behalf of Johnathan, a critically ill 18-year old car enthusiast whose wish was to have his 2000 V6 Mustang transformed by the American Muscle team.
She arranged for the car to be delivered to the team in Philadelphia – at no cost to the young man’s family – and have it completely restored with Jonathan’s input and presented to him at an upcoming car show.
Just before the original car was to be shipped for the transformation, it was completely destroyed when Johnathan swerved to avoid hitting a deer. With no car to remake, auto parts supplier American Muscle decided to purchase a 2001 Mustang GT to rebuild. Johnathan still had input on the design and cried tears of joy when he was presented with the car of his dreams.
Although researching and fulfilling wishes is time consuming, Comar embraces the opportunity.
“When something is important to you, you find the time,” she said. “Some of these children haven’t had a childhood. They are quite ill and have had to spend their lives in and out of hospitals. I get to help them live out a dream and provide some light in an otherwise dark world. What could be better?”
These children and their families have been through a lot. My role is to bring the child’s wish to life so he or she can have a little bit of joy and fun – and can leave the medical world behind for a few days and just be a child again.
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