Ryerson group hopes to grant wishes for present and future kids

This version corrects items in paragraph two: The age of children that the foundation makes its wishes for and the type of illnesses with which the children are afflicted.

A group of Ryerson students is looking to make dreams come true by fulfilling their pledge to raise $10,000.

Students for Wishes is an auxiliary branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada, one of Canada’s largest organizations that grants wishes to people from age three to 17 that have life-threatening medical conditions. While the group hopes to raise the last $3,500 of their goal by the end of this academic year, its sights are set to the future.

students for wishes in text

Students for Wishes Ryerson at their first hairaiser event earlier this year. (Courtesy Noura Al-Mutairi)

“We have a non-financial goal of creating a foundation where future Ryerson students can build friendships and share some of their good fortune with less fortunate children,” said Daniel Stagliano, president of the group.

Students for Wishes was started in 2012 by Bradley Salt, a business student who has since graduated. Salt founded the Ryerson group in honour of his sister who died at a young age. It wasn’t until last year that the group became officially affiliated with the university and set its $10,000 goal.

Stagliano says that while many members may not have been in Salt’s exact situation, they’ve had similar experiences or know friends who have.

“It’s something I think students feel passionate about because they want to take some of the fortune they’ve had and give back,” said Stagliano, a fourth-year business student. “Not long ago, we were under 18 and we were fortunate enough to be able to get here.”

As a child, volunteer Andrea Gambardella admired Make-A-Wish and what they did. Now a second-year journalism student, she’s glad to have a chance to give back. For her, the group gives her a change to “help young kids get to where I am.”

Despite being new to the Ryerson community, Students for Wishes and its 17 members have already held multiple events, including scavenger hunts, yoga classes and its annual “Hairaiser,” where students pledge to either cut or temporarily dye their hair blue to raise money.

This year, Students for Wishes Ryerson has partnered with the organization’s University of Toronto’s chapter on a haunted house. The haunted house isn’t new for the group, but it is the first time groups from both universities have partnered up for an event like this.

“I think the whole point of a community-based student group is to offer a platform for students to get involved with a selfless act,” said Ella Lew, president of U of T’s Students for Wishes. “Dedicating some of our time and effort for the community or someone else’s benefit is very gratifying in itself.”

Aside from student support and fundraising, Students for Wishes has also gained corporate support from local businesses like Druxy’s, a local deli.

But for Stagliano and other members, their influence on a child’s life is more important than the money they raise. So far, their contributions have helped fulfill wishes for two children, Zachary and Jaylen.

“These wishes are going to children at an early stage in their life … and what they experience at that age can often have a lifelong impact,” said Jarel Douglas, vice-president of corporate relations for Students for Wishes.

“I feel like students should be proud to have a good impact on someone’s life.”

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