JONI AVERILL

Wayne’s WIFFLE for a Wish goal is to be able to fund one full wish this year

Posted Aug. 09, 2011, at 8:19 p.m.

Wayne’s WIFFLE for a Wish is in its third year raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Maine Chapter.

That organization, with offices in Camden and Portland, now has more than 500 volunteers statewide and a staff of six.

According to its website, the national Make-A-Wish Foundation began April 29, 1980, when officers of the Arizona Department of Public Safety granted the wish of 7-year-old with leukemia who wanted to be a police officer for a short time.

The power of that wish in his life provided the inspiration for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and, today, there are 66 chapters in the U.S. and 27 international affiliates.

The Maine chapter, founded by Wayne and Caroline Morong, opened in 1992 in Camden and has grown to serve children in each of Maine’s 16 counties.

As of February 2011, the Maine chapter has granted the wishes of more than 950 Maine children and expects to grant the wishes of more than 75 seriously ill Maine children, which is an average of one wish every five days.

The average cost of a wish is $6,000 and all wish expenses are fully covered, including travel and spending money. The Foundation’s objective is to provide the child and family with a worry-free experience.

Make-A-Wish Foundation raises funds through the generosity of individuals and businesses and through events conducted by it and outside community groups.

As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, all contributions to Make-A-Wish are tax deductible.

The Maine chapter has many friends, and Wayne Harvey of Bangor is one of those people who help make it possible for Make-A-Wish to fulfill the dreams of seriously ill Maine children.

Wayne’s WIFFLE for a Wish begins with registration at 8 a.m. and games at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Union Street Athletic Complex in Bangor.

The team entry fee is $100 with each team guaranteed a minimum of three games.

You can register or receive more information by emailing wayneharveywiffleball@hotmail.com or visiting wiffleforawish.com and using the contact tab. The event is open to the public.

“We’re playing a kids’ game for kids,” Wayne wrote in a recent email. “In our first year we raised $2,000. In year two, we doubled our teams and added some events and raised $5,550. This year, our goal is to be able pay for one wish ourselves, and raise at least $6,000.”

Previous tournaments have drawn teams from Presque Isle to Portland and Wayne is proud of the fact that “all of the funds raised stay right here in Maine and help Maine kids.”

As I’ve explained in previous columns, Wayne, now the proud father of three healthy little girls, came up with the idea for this tournament after his middle child underwent surgery at 9 weeks old, which he explained “started a slew of medical procedures and surgeries, doctors visits [and] appointments with specialists.”

And while Wayne’s daughter was not in a life-threatening situation and didn’t even have to stay overnight in the hospital, “it was still scary,” he wrote.

“[I] saw parents who were in the hospital with their kids who would never come home, and it ripped my heart out,” Wayne wrote.

Wayne’s response to the difficulties those families faced was to do something for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help bring a smile to the faces of youngsters who have little to smile about.

Tom Peaco is executive director of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, and he knows how important it is that people such as Wayne take the initiative to assist this organization.

“Our volunteers and staff are so inspired by people like Wayne who step up and want to help us grant wishes to deserving Maine kids,” he said. “Events like this help make it possible for us to grant the wish of another Maine child every five days.”

And others are stepping up to the plate, so to speak, to help raise funds during the tournament so the $6,000 goal can be met.

One of Wayne’s friends has issued a $50 challenge to pay for an after-the-tournament celebratory drink for the team that wins a division made up of representatives of public service organizations such as police, fire and emergency responders.

And here’s a cute note: Wayne wrote that he “even had one player who scheduled his wedding, this summer, around the tournament, so he wouldn’t miss it.”

Tom also asked me to remind readers that another Make-A-Wish fundraiser is coming right up.

The Walk for Wishes begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at Ellsworth Middle School.

More information about that event is available online at maine.wish.org or by calling 800-491-3171.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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