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Originally published: 2014-03-31 09:36:50
Last modified: 2014-03-31 09:37:35

ASU fraternity helps to make wishes come true

by Sherrie Norris

A 14-year-old boy from East Bend is preparing to have the time of his life, thanks to the philanthropic efforts of a local  fraternity.

Marshall Baker, who suffers from a neurodegenerative disorder and is recovering from a recent kidney transplant, will be setting sail soon for his Disney Cruise to the Bahamas, thanks to the Appalachian State University Chi Omegas.

The fun begins on Saturday, March 29, when Baker and his family are treated to a three-hour "send-off party" provided by the fraternity on the campus of his favorite college, which just happens to be in Boone.

"Marshall is a big Appalachian State fan," said Elizabeth Hartstock, Chi Omega's philanthropy chairwoman. "He will be coming up on Saturday for a surprise 'Wish Party,' hosted by our chapter, before he goes on his cruise."

"Baker and his family will be given a tour of the football facilities, greeted by ASU cheerleaders and Yosef, gifted with App gear donated by businesses in the community and finally, attend a party in his honor," Hartstock said. "Our entire chapter is extremely excited to be able to have Marshall here for his party. We could not be happier to support him and his family."

"This wonderful organization generously raised all of the funds to finance Marshall's wish by hosting a campuswide shrimp boil," said Stephanie Leeper, marketing and communications manager for Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina, from her office in Charlotte.

"This send-off party for Marshall will combine his love for sports with his favorite college," Leeper said. "Having the players and cheerleaders accompany him during his party will help make his day that much more special."

Leeper describes Baker as an outgoing young man with a love for activity and sports.

"During his cruise, Marshall is going to be able to try scuba diving for the first time, thanks to Discover Scuba," Leeper said. "His positive outlook on life has never diminished, and he is looking forward to exploring new things and going on his trip."

It is shaping up to be a trip of a lifetime for Baker and his family, Leeper said, which will allow the Bakers to reconnect and enjoy being a family -- without the stress of his illness. 

 "It is because of wonderful groups like the Chi Omegas, that Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina is able to continue to thrive and help families for years to come," Leeper said.

According to campus fraternity president Savannah Bower, Chi Omega's philanthropy is Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is unique in many ways.

 "Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Chi Omega has the special privilege of not only raising money for such a phenomenal organization, but also working hand-in-hand in granting wishes for local children."

During the course of one year, Bower said, the Pi Kappa chapter of Chi Omega has surprised two young boys by granting their wishes.

"In order to raise funds for Make-A-Wish, our chapter has organized shrimp boils, soccer tournaments and other various fundraisers," she said. "With the shrimp boil being our most popular event, raising nearly $6,000 last year, we have made it a Pi Kappa annual tradition."

This philanthropy is unlike any other, "in the sense that we truly get to see the outcome of our hard work in the children we touch right here in our community," Bower said.



Make-A-Wish

Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina is   a nonprofit organization and relies on community support to grant the wishes of children battling life-threatening medical conditions. 

With every wish granted, children feel more resilient, more spirited, more willing and able to battle their life-threatening medical conditions, Make-A-Wish officials said. For many of them, it can become a turning point in their fight against their illnesses. For the doctors, nurses, other health professionals, friends and families, the wish experience works in conjunction with the medicine to make the children feel better both emotionally and physically.

Since its inception in 1985, more than 3,000 local children have experienced a wish come true. For more information, visit http://www.ncwish.org, call Leeper at (704) 339-0334, ext. 226, or email (sleeper@nc.wish.org)  


Alliance

Since 1895, Chi Omega fraternity members have given their time and talent to provide service to others, a fraternity spokeswoman said.

In the late 1990s, the leadership in Chi Omega researched opportunities for establishing a national philanthropy, and in 2002, they announced the Chi Omega/Make-A-Wish alliance. 

Since the start of this alliance, Chi Omega has raised more than $9.5 million and has volunteered more than half a million hours for Make-A-Wish.  Because of this commitment, they recognize Chi Omega as one of their "Cause Champion" sponsors.


About Chi Omega

Founded in 1895 at the University of Arkansas, Chi Omega is the largest women's fraternal organization in the world with more than 320,000 initiates and 176 collegiate chapters.