Third grader Jonathan Carroll knows a thing or two about wishes and he’d like to share the joy this holiday season.
Jonathan wants to help grant wishes for seriously or terminally ill children by helping raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and he hopes lots of people on Whidbey Island will join in the effort.
Macy’s Department Store has promised to donate $1 — up to $1 million — to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for each letter to Santa it receives before the holidays.
Jonathan has created a special mailbox to collect letters to Santa and has placed it in the lobby of the Pacific NorthWest Art School in Coupeville. Kids and adults are welcome to write a letter to Santa using the theme “I believe.” His mom, Jenny Carroll, will collect all the letters and deliver them to Macy’s, which of course, will then forward the letters on to old St. Nick.
Jonathan and his family have a very good reason for wanting to help. It wasn’t that long ago when Jonathan was the recipient of a Make-a-Wish trip.
Three years ago Jonathan went into kidney failure, due to an auto-immune disease. His doctor recommended him for a Make-a-Wish trip, which the family was able to take last August, shortly before Jonathan underwent a kidney transplant.
“First I wanted to go on a Nick (Nickelodeon) cruise, because you get to slide down into pools of green slime, but they told me I couldn’t do that because it wouldn’t be good for my kidneys,” Jonathan said. “I really wanted to go on a cruise, so we went on a Disney cruise.”
Jonathan and his family — mom, Jenny; dad, Mike; and older brother Mitchell, 13 — all got to go on the trip, which was a major undertaking due to Jonathan’s illness.
“It was hard to imagine being able to go on a trip at that time, but it really gave us all something to look forward to,” said Jenny. “We were able to enjoy it without the worry.”
Jenny described how boxes and boxes of dialysis solution and machines had to be provided in order for Jonathan to make the trip. All of it was provided by the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
“We would never have done it otherwise,” said Jenny.
For Jonathan, the trip was a chance for him to feel normal, to forget his illness. Even though he had to undergo dialysis every day, it didn’t seem to slow him down. He spent just about every waking moment on the water slides, which he described with great enthusiasm.
“The big water slide went out over the water and through the smokestack,” he said, using his hands to illustrate the twists and turns. “I must have gone down the shorter one at least 20 times.”
Jonathan underwent a kidney transplant in November, 2011. His father, Mike, was the donor. A year later, one would never be able to tell Jonathan had been a very sick young man. Today he enjoys playing basketball and video games and going to sleepovers. In the future, he wants to be an architect and design dams and bridges.
But it is obvious the Make-a-Wish trip made a big impression on Jonathan, who said he would recommend it to other children in similar positions.
“I would tell them to do a Make-a-Wish trip because you get to do whatever you want and it’s really fun,” he said.
“We wanted to do something to give back,” Jenny said regarding the letter-writing campaign. “We thought it was a good idea and asked all our friends to write letters that we could collect. Then, we thought maybe we could get more letters by getting the community involved.”
“We would love to see an outpouring from the community,” said Karen Fuller, office administrator for Pacific NorthWest Art School, where Jonathan takes a class once a week. “It’s teaching community spirit, too."
Letters can be dropped off at the art school from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, until Dec. 22. The school is located at 15 NW Birch St. in Coupeville. Letters to Santa can also be mailed to the art school or taken directly to Macy’s.
“I hope everybody will write a letter,” said Jenny.
“I’m hoping we get $100, no, $1,000,” Jonathan said.
An iTunes card and a new remote-controlled helicopter and car, among other things, are on Jonathan’s wish list to Santa this year. But it’s clear the Carroll family has already gotten the best gift of all.
“It feels wonderful being back to normal, being a happy family,” said Jenny. “Jonathan is healthy and that’s a great thing.”