Last Friday was our Holiday Wish Fundraiser. This was my third Holiday Wish season with Magic 98, and I continue to be so humbled by your donations for an especially personal reason.
I grew up in a single-parent household. My father passed away when I was only three years old, so having one parent is all I’ve ever known. (The picture you see here was taken at our last Christmas as a family of four.) My mom raised my brother and me after unexpectedly losing her husband, our family’s sole provider. She worked her butt off at jobs that paid for our house and extracurricular activities. As an adult, I know now how much overtime she probably had to pull in to make our birthdays and holidays as special as she did. We are lucky to have my mom, who always made it a point to make sure that those special occasions were exactly that: special. How exactly she did it, I’ll never know.
There was one year, especially, that could have been different from the rest.
Mom rarely called upon others for help. (She still doesn’t!) So, thinking back, it must have taken a lot of courage for her to write to our local radio station in Minneapolis where I grew up, that did something similar to Magic 98’s Holiday Wish. I don’t entirely know why that was the year she felt like she couldn’t do it on her own. As a 12 yearold, why would I? I’ll never forget when the radio hosts, people I felt like I knew as family since we listened to them every morning, called to talk to my mom and tell her what they had planned for us. She cried—which wasn’t anything new around the holidays—but this time, the tears came with a smile. That smile spread to my brother and I, and it lasted all year for us. To our shock, the radio station had an entire Christmas vacation planned for us. We were awarded a trip to Disney World, plus gift cards for food and spending money for Mickey knickknacks—my jaw still drops to the floor when I think about all of the work that went into making this happen for our family and how many people it took to pull it off.
We took our trip to Disney during the cold Midwestern winter months, and it was a trip I’ll never forget. You never forget your first trip to Disney, but you really never forget it when it took the hearts of thousands of strangers to get you there. It was a trip, a memory, a holiday season that would not have been possible had it not been for that letter, and that Christmas wish. (The pic you see here is my brother Joey and me, a few years before our Holiday Wish was granted.)
To those of you who write letters on behalf of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family—to those who have donated in the past and continue to support Holiday Wish—it’s my wish that you know just how much it means to the families who receive the wishes. Your generosity creates a world of difference for families who need it, and it has the opportunity to inspire for a lifetime. It’s been 25 years since my family’s Holiday Wish was granted, and it continues to keep my spirit alive during the holidays.
Hear Jillene Khan weekday afternoons from 3-7. To read more of her blogs, click here.