Chi Omega, Make-A-Wish alliance leaves lasting effect on Kent State student

Taryn Antolic

Chi Omega’s annual Chi Factor event raised $22,792 Saturday for the Make-A-Wish Foundation this year, which had a special meaning for one of its members.

Tyler Shoff, a senior special education major and member of Chi Omega, has a personal connection with Make-A-Wish.

In 2011, her sister, Mackenzie, was given the opportunity to have her wish granted. She wished to go to Disney World and get a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Her dream came true in April 2012 when her and her family were taken to a send-off party at Starbucks, where the baristas surprised Mackenzie with presents before going to the airport.

“When we got to Florida, we were taken to Give Kids the World Village, which is one of the most magical places” Shoff said. “At Give Kids the World, there was so many things to do that we could have never went to the theme parks and we still would have had an absolutely amazing trip.”

According to the Give Kids the World website, it is a nonprofit resort where children and their families are treated to week-long, cost-free vacations.

“When we went to any of the theme parks, we were treated like royalty,” Shoff said. “We got to go to the front of every single line. Which, for Mackenzie, it meant that we would ride Space Mountain, her favorite ride, 23 times in a row.”

Shoff said going on Mackenzie’s wish trip gave her a chance to be away from the hospital for a little bit and be a “normal” kid again, at least for a little while.

“When we got back home she was much more motivated and less burnt out about going to her different therapy appointments,” Shoff said. “The main thing she brought back with her from her wish trip was determination. Mackenzie was determined that the next time we went to Disney World she didn’t want to have to use a wheelchair to get around.”  

During the event’s intermission, Mackenzie dressed up as a troll and danced to “Hair Up” from the movie “Trolls.” The crowd cheered and her proud sister watched from the side of the stage.

Shoff joined an organization that helps other families have their wishes granted. Since 2002, Chi Omega has volunteered more than one million volunteer hours and helped raise over $19 million.

After the first round of performances, half of the 18 contestants moved to the top nine round.

While waiting for the results, a new member of Chi Omega gave a speech about being a wish child. Madison Boone, a freshman nursing major, was diagnosed on Jan. 17, 2014, with inoperable stage 2A Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. She had her wish granted four months later during her freshman year of high school.

She, like Mackenzie, wished to go to Disney World. She said the most memorable and remarkable part of the trip was her visit to the Castle of Miracles at Give Kids the World Village.

“What makes the Castle of Miracles so important to me is that as a ‘wish child’ I was able to place (my personal star) among the thousands that already shine there,” Boone said.

Taryn Antolic is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected].