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‘Make a Wish’ Makes $70,000 Goal 5.17.2006

By Jack Fichter

RIO GRANDE – The dreams of some local children with life threatening illnesses will come true thanks to the generosity of local residents and business people supporting the Make A Wish Weekend here May 4-6.
A combination of a Celebrity Bartender Night at Menz Restaurant May 4, which included a raffle and a weekend golf outing May 6-7, was expected to raise $65,000 to $70,000 when all funds are totaled.  Organizer Rick Jones, owner of Par 3 Golf here, had set a goal of $70,000.
He said last year’s events raised $40,000, with all money staying in this county.
The golf outing featured two, shotgun starts with over 20 teams participating, said Jones. 
Celebrity Bartender Night at Menz Restaurant packed the restaurant. All tips went to Make A Wish along with a $10 cover charge per person and 50 percent of bar proceeds, said Jones.
Celebrity bartenders included Lower Township Mayor Walter Craig, Deputy Mayor Robert Nolan, and Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st).
The real celebrity at the event, however, was former world heavyweight boxing champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier who posed for photos for all who asked.
Frazier is known for his 1964 Summer Olympics Gold Medal, turning pro with 11 wins in a row, and closing 1967 with a 19-0 career record. His fights with Muhammad Ali were legendary.
Revelers danced to music provided by 98.7 The Coast D.J. Chris Topper.
Make A Wish has granted wishes such as Walt Disney World vacations, a computer, a playground, and a swimming pool to ill children in this county.
“These kids pick these wishes based on where they want to go and there is no monetary limit placed on these wishes,” said Jones. “The parents don’t pick the wishes, the kids do.”
He said children don’t equate wishes with the cost. Jones said one child wanted to meet New Jersey Nets basketball player Jason Kidd.
Jones said Make A Wish works hard to make whatever a child wishes to come true, asking for two wishes, in case it becomes impossible to grant the first.
Make A Wish volunteer Cindy Dietrich said she was arranging a trip for a child who asked to swim with dolphins. She said she fulfilled an Atlantic County child’s wish of owning a horse.
Make A Wish kids that visit Disney World get special treatment such as not waiting in line, limousine rides, and staying at a facility called “Give Kids the World.”
Dietrich said one child did not want to ask for a computer program he considered too expensive.
“Our response was ‘money is absolutely no object,'” she said. “We never bring money up. We want to get them whatever it is they want.” 
Jones said his goal that every child in this county with a life-threatening illness be granted a wish. He has set future fund raising goals at $100,000 per year.
He said to grant a wish for a child averages about $6,500.
“It’s hard to believe in a county this small with 100,000 people that 17 sick kids could be out there that have a life threatening illness,” said Jones.
Contact Fichter at (609) 886-8600 Ext 30 or at: jfichter@cmcherald.com

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