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Wendy Reuer, Published September 10 2010

Make-A-Wish marks 25th anniversary

Fargo residents will need some deeper pockets if they hope to raise as much money as Bismarck for the statewide Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Make-A-Wish Foundation is celebrating its 25th year of granting wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Each year, the nonprofit hosts an Enchanted Evening Gala in both Fargo and Bismarck, two of the largest fundraising evenings for Make-A-Wish.

Bismarck residents raised $65,000 last year, while Fargo residents gathered $40,000.

“It’s fun to see the competitiveness between the two cities,” said Sharon Mazeheri, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish in North Dakota.

Fargo will have another chance to up its ante during the 12th annual Enchanted Evening Gala tonight at the Holiday Inn. Attendance to the event is nearly sold out with 330 people planning to attend.

The evening will include dinner, a program and a live auction. Raffle tickets are also being sold to raise money, with prizes such as University of North Dakota hockey tickets, gift cards and cash. For those not attending, raffle tickets can be purchased throughout the day.

Make-A-Wish serves children throughout the state, making nearly any wish an eligible child has, come true.

“Our wishes always tend to fall under four categories: ‘I wish to go;’ ‘I wish to be;’ ‘I wish to meet;’ or ‘I wish to have,’ ” Mazaheri said.

Although the most popular wish granted by Make-A-Wish has been a trip to Disney World in Florida, each child has different reasons for going. The group has granted wishes on everything from restoring a car to swimming with the dolphins or meeting Dog the Bounty Hunter.

This year, Joe Keller, an 11-year-old from Fargo with muscular dystrophy was able to attend the grand opening of the Harry Potter Park in Orlando, Fla., and even meet the stars of the movie franchise.

Jack Gellner, 8, of West Fargo, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. He was able to take his family to Hawaii after learning about the state in home school.

The two boys will be talking about their granted wishes at tonight’s gala.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530