When asked what he wanted as his wish, Josh, a 10-year-old boy from Blue Springs, MO, with Cerebral Palsy, didn't hold back. Josh hoped for a sensory playhouse, and Kretschmar® Premium Deli Meats and Cheeses teamed with Price Chopper Food Stores, and Make-A-Wish Missouri to make his wish a reality. The organizations surprised Josh Thursday afternoon with a new playhouse for his backyard. The endeavor was done as part of a relationship that Make-A-Wish and Kretschmar established last summer to fulfill three wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Josh is legally blind and wanted a playhouse filled with items that he could experience and enjoy with limited vision. Make-A-Wish Missouri exercised tremendous creativity and imagination to develop a structure that incorporated his ideas. They outfitted a Tuff Shed building with textured walls, a gigantic keyboard and several other components to spark his imagination. All items requiring power use solar or battery technology and don't require electricity for operation.
"Obviously this is a very special campaign for Kretschmar," said Chuck Gitkin, VP, Marketing, Innovation and R&D, John Morrell Food Group. "We've taken great pride in partnering with Make-A-Wish. It's been overwhelming and enjoyable to see the support from our retailers and the local community to make these wishes come true."
Kretschmar established a national association with Make-A-Wish last year. It donated over $100,000 to Make-A-Wish and is helping grant three specific wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, including Josh's, in 2013. It is part of a campaign called "Legendary Wishes." Additional funding was raised at the local level with help from Price Chopper. Price Chopper sold paper stars at its stores' cash registers during the month of April for $1 each, with proceeds going to Make-A-Wish. Its sales generated $20,000. Price Chopper also named a hero sandwich combo on its deli menu in Josh's honor and $2.99 of each hero sandwich combo from April 1 - April 30, 2013 went to Make-A-Wish Missouri. Enough support was raised from the combo sales to enhance Josh's playhouse with climbing handholds, sensory stepping stones, and a large sensory pillow.
"Helping grant Josh's wish has been extremely rewarding for Kretschmar," said Michael Sargent, brand manager for Kretschmar. "All of the hard work that we have put forth with Price Chopper and Make-A-Wish Missouri was worth it to see the smile on his face when we gave him his playhouse. We appreciate everyone's efforts this month and hope we can continue this association for years to come."
Josh's playhouse was unveiled with dozens of his family members, friends and medical assistants on hand to celebrate the new addition to his backyard. Price Chopper supplied food and beverages for the event. The retailer also gave him oversized cards that had well-wishes from its stores' employees that were collected throughout April.
"A wish experience provides the children we serve hope, strength and joy at a time when they need it the most," said LuAnn Bott, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Missouri. "Josh's wish for a sensory playhouse will allow him the opportunity to increase his sensory awareness in a fun and active environment for years to come. We're thankful for our national alliance with Kretschmar to not only make wishes come true across the country, but especially here in the KC area."