KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Children get opportunities like singing with Beyoncé, getting their own "she shed" and being a truck driver thanks to Make-A-Wish.
"Taking that medical piece out and taking kids that we consider special or special needs, those kids will always tell me, ‘I don’t want to be special. I want to be normal,'" said Dr. David Sine.
Dr. Sine has been working with special needs children and kids with life-threatening illnesses for over 20 years.
“So I’m dealing with the sickest of the sick," he said.
Dr. Sine does hospice care, and pain and symptom management for over 200 children in the valley.
He’s a top referrer for Make-A-Wish. He said having a wish granted can have a huge impact.
“It gives that kid something else to focus on instead of the illness they’re dealing with at the time," said Dr. Sine.
Dr. Sine said there is a difference between treatment at a hospital and true healing.
“The healing goes on at home, at the beach, you know, at Disneyland, wherever," he said. "When they're surrounded by their family, friends, that kind of stuff, that’s when the true healing comes."
And Make-A-Wish helps make that happen.
A recent study from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital found patients granted a wish were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions, and 1.9 times more likely to not need the emergency department.
"It's replacing fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope. I mean, these are the things that we want to see in these Wish kids’ lives," said Ashley Sodergren.
Sodergren is the Make-A-Wish South Valley Regional Director. She said the impact goes beyond just the kids. The families benefit as well.
“They see their children going through something traumatic and all we want to do is take some of that trauma away," she said.
18-year-old Tiera Delong was born with congenital kidney failure and has had her battles ever since.
This past July, Make-A-Wish sent Tiera and her family to the Monterey Zoo Safari Bed and Breakfast.
“It was amazing. It was kind of like, unbelievable at first. Like, when I [saw] the elephant, I was like, 'Wait, is this even really happening?'” she said.
Tiera said having wishes granted helps kids feel a little more normal.
“They can think about just having fun for once without having to worry about what they might be going through,” she said.
There are 100 wishes pending here in Kern County and that’s out of 400 in the Central Valley area.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help grant those wishes, click here.