The 2016 Walk for Wishes

Erin Johansen, a long-time Business Financial Analyst on the Opus team, put her 20 years of industry experience to work for the Make-A-Wish “Walk for Wishes” over the weekend, raising over $120,000 for the organization. While it’s certainly a worthy cause, Erin committed her time as a way to give back for everything Make-A-Wish has done for her family—especially for her daughter, Ella. Here is the Johansens’ story: 

My daughter, Ella, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke two years ago which caused her to lose the ability to move her right side. She spent 54 days at Randall Children’s Hospital and continues to improve each day. We were introduced to Make-A-Wish shortly after we got home from the hospital by a family friend who encouraged us to apply. Once we were accepted and the wheels were in motion to capture Ella’s wish, we started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Ella’s wish was to go on a Disney Cruise. She chose that in part because she could bring her whole family who were on the journey with her. As the mom, I saw the power shift in Ella from not having any control over your body, to being able to have a say in something happening. As the mom, I didn’t realize that we hadn’t experienced joy in a while and the wish did exactly that. The wish gave us something to look forward to, it allowed Ella to be a kid again when she had to grow up too fast,  and it gave our family precious time together.

After our cruise, I made a commitment to help out Make-A-Wish to give back and help other families experience the joy we experienced after such a dark time. Ella was also eager to help and has since participated in their radio-a-thon, did a news spot on KPTV, attended the Wish Ball selling golden tickets, and presented a donation check at a Blazer game. Make-A-Wish knew my background and asked if I would like to be the Event Chair for the 2016 Walk for Wishes fundraiser. I was more than thrilled to put my skills to work for such a great organization!

There are several ways to get involved: You can sign up to help at one of their events, you can become a wish granter, you can donate money or miles to Make-A-Wish, you can refer a child (you can find a full list here). Eighty-four percent of their expenses are allocated to program services.

The walk on Saturday was a huge success! This was the first year they held the walk in Portland (it has been in Salem for the past eight years) and there were over 1,500 people signed up for the walk (triple the attendance in Salem). The walk also raised over $120,000 (and still increasing). Those who attended got a chance to walk through the zoo, and if they raised enough money received free zoo tickets to enjoy the zoo after the walk. The activities at the walk included VooDoo Donuts, Dutch Bros. Coffee, ice cream, face painting, fairy hair, Star Wars characters, and more. Ella raised just over $3,000 and volunteered as a course director on the route with five of her friends from school who have been on this journey with her.

Ella is an inspiration to many, and if her story touches someone else to look at life in a more positive manner, choose kindness over hatred, or choose gratitude over victimhood—it is worth it.

– Erin Johansen, Opus Business Financial Analyst

If the Johansens’ story and the work of the Make-A-Wish foundation inspired you, visit the Make-A-Wish website to find more ways to get involved!

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