Story first appeared in the Feb. 12 edition of the Spectator.
Edinboro University’s oft used slogan is, “Great things happen here.”
Wednesday that great ‘thing’ was making a child’s wish come true.
Edinboro hosted a Make-a-Wish revel ceremony during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Gannon in McComb Fieldhouse, all part of Make-a-Wish Awareness night, hosted by the university’s athletic department and Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Isabella Linz, 8, of Meadville, who was diagnosed with very long-chain acyl-COA dehydrogenase deficiency, a life-threatening condition that prevents the body from converting certain fats to energy, saw her wish come true as she was given a trip for her and her family to Hawaii to swim with the dolphins.
“It’s really amazing,” Linz said about the night. “It’s so surprising.”
Linz also related her reasoning behind Hawaii to reporters after the reveal.
“Because of Bethany Hamilton,” she said. “I just love her story of her getting her arm bitten off by a shark [and persevering]. I just always wanted to go to Hawaii. I love the beaches and it is very beautiful.”
Before the ceremony commenced, other Make-a-Wish families were honored during the first half of the men’s game.
The big event began with the Edinboro swim team bringing Linz and her parents to center court and danced for her as a member of the Edinboro ROTC repelled down to the court from the ceiling of McComb to award Linz her first gift, a lei.
One-by-one each of Edinboro athletic teams’ two SAAC representatives presented Linz with a different tropical themed gift that foreshadowed the big reveal.
The ceremony culminated with the crowd of 1,673 yelling, “Tomorrow,” representing the day of departure for Linz and her family for the trip, which provoked the biggest smile of the night from Linz’s face.
Edinboro was third last academic year in Division-II and first in the PSAC in Make-a-Wish donations, for the third straight year, totaling over $10,000. The university hosted a reveal last year as well and its dedication to Make-a-Wish is appreciated.
“They take it to heart,” Jan Stork, Make-a-Wish’s Erie office Regional Director, said about Edinboro. “The kids get involved and the student-athletes get involved in every step, from the beginning. From figuring out who we are going to do this wish for to what should we do as part of the wish reveal. They really planned this entire night and they also raised all the funds for it.
“They sold thousands of stars already. It is a big undertaking, in addition to, classes and getting everything ready for college. We are really impressed with their commitment to this and extremely thankful.”
Edinboro continued its donating on Wednesday. Between program sales, donations, selling of stars, and portions of other proceeds, nearly $3,300 was raised.
Stark went on to say that in her 18 years involved with Make-a-Wish in Erie County, Edinboro has always been involved.
University president Dr. Julie E. Wollman said after the reveal that this kind of event is what Edinboro is all about.
“It’s incredible,” she said of the university’s effort. “It shows the heart of our athletes. It shows the commitment of our campus community to making a difference in the lives of children who are facing real struggles. It shows what a Fighting Scot is.”