On Friday, September 28, the Norris Group proudly presents its 11th annual award-winning black-tie event, I Survived Real Estate. An incredible lineup of industry experts will join Bruce Norris to discuss perplexing industry trends, head-scratching legislation, tech disruption, and opportunities emerging for real estate professionals. All proceeds from the event benefit Make A Wish and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This event is not possible without the generous help of the following platinum partners: the San Diego Creative Real Estate Investors Association, InvestClub, Inland Empire Real Estate Investment Club, ThinkRealty, Wilson Investment Properties, Coach Fullerton, First Lending Solutions, PropertyRadar, the Apartment Owners Association, MVT Productions, and Realty411. Visit www.isurvivedrealestate.com for event information, and see Amazon Prime or YouTube for past events.
Aaron Norris is joined this week by Stephanie McCormick, President and CEO of Make A Wish of both the Inland Empire and Orange County. The Norris Group has helped Make A Wish at I Survived Real Estate for 5 or 6 years, and they have been great partners in helping them do some really interesting things to raise funds.
Aaron began by asking how she got involved with Make A Wish. She said she has been in the nonprofit community 42 years. She started really by happenstance when she was working an internship in college. She really thought she wanted to be a teacher so she could have the summers off. She ended up doing her intership with the American Lung Association back in Ohio, and the rest is history. Seven years ago, she was blessed with her current position as CEO of Make a Wish. It has definitely been the pinnacle of her career and last stop before she spends more time with her grandkids.
She said it has been a tremendously rewarding experience. She think the children have given her more than she has given them, and they are incredible kids. However, she said she could not do what she does without everyone at I Survived Real Estate. Make a Wish is best known for their videos of the amazing things they do. However, for those not familiar with Make A Wish, they next went on to discuss the organization and how it got started. Make A Wish, as a system, turned 38 years old this past April on World Wish Day. It all started in Phoenix, Arizona with a little seven year old boy named Christopher Gracious. He was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. There were 3-4 people who heard he wanted to be a CHIPs motorcycle cop. Christopher mentioned that, word got out to the community, the community came together, and five incredible people granted Christopher’s wish, everything from getting him his own uniform to making him the first and still only Arizona motorcycle police with a badge and papers.
He got to ride in a helicopter and was given a little motorized motorcycle. There were a lot of people who came together to make that wish happen, and it was really special for the community. Thus was born the Make A Wish Foundation. Christopher went to Heaven shortly after that wish, and his uniform still hangs in the national office in Phoenix. They made another one because he wanted to be buried in his uniform. The parents all came together who helped make his wish come true. They came together and all asked each other, “Why stop here? What can we do to continue to make this kids’ wishes come true and make this happen?” One of the members, Christopher’s mom, suggested they open a checking account. Everyone opened their pockets then and there, and what surfaced was $73.76. They put it in the bank and started Make a Wish.
Today, Make a Wish has 62 chapters. The Orange County and Inland Empire chapter was the seventh formed in the United States, right after Los Angeles. There are now about 47 international affiliates, and they are really a very young federated system. They are only 38-39 years old, and this is pretty young when you compare it to other nonprofits like Salvation Army or Red Cross that are hundreds of years old. They have one of the top ten most recognizable brands in the world. That is a good thing. The bad thing is that people do not always know where they are or how they can help to grant a wish.
Aaron asked how many wishes Make a Wish grants per year. Stephanie said their chapter will close out in a couple of weeks at granting around 340 wishes for kids in Orange County and the Inland Empire. On top of that, there is something called a wish assist. Those are wish kids who come in from other chapters outside their footprint. They usually want to go to Disneyland. They do right around 690 of those wishes alone. Some of them even go to Florida, but they come from all over the globe. Summertime is by far the busiest when they grant the most wishes from June until the end of August. School is out, and they want to go on vacation.
One of the myths around Make A Wish is people think it is only for terminally ill kids. This is no longer case and changed about 15 years ago when leukemia and childhood cancer was the primary diagnosis wish kids had. Medicine has advanced so much since then. However, other types of life-long threatening conditions have surfaced since then. Make A Wish grants wishes for kids with critical illnesses and life-threatening medical conditions. Some of the conditions may not be terminal. 70% of their kids go on to see adulthood thanks to medicine and medical research. 30% go to become wish angels.
People often ask what the average age of a wish kid is. Stephanie said it is interesting because they grant wishes for kids age 2 ½ until their 18th birthday. The average profile of a wish kid is a little boy that is 8 ½ or 9 and lives in the Inland Empire. Most of their money comes from Orange County, and most of their children live in the Inland Empire. Even though 340 wishes sounds like an incredible number, they are only reached a little over 50% of their medically eligible kids. Stephanie was so appreciative of what the Norris Group does to raise funds for them and says it needs to still be done. The average cash cost for the wish is $7,500.
Not all wishes are like the Disneyland trip in a box. We are talking about CHIP experiences or a superhero experience. Aaron asked what the making of a wish looks like. Stephanie said there are four types of wishes. The first is “I wish to be,” which is what Make a Wish was founded on originally. The second is “I wish to have something,” like a room redo, an ipad for those bed bound, a new backyard for those needing physical therapy. The third is “I wish to meet someone.” These are the celebrity wishes, whether it is Kobe Bryant Taylor Swift, or Aaron Norris. These wishes are all coordinated through the national office in Phoenix and is the only wish type coordinated in this way. The last one and most expensive is “I wish to go.” These are all the travel wishes.
Families are growing in numbers. They have sent a family of nine to Ireland. One of their greatest needs besides cash to offset this is airline miles. People can donate them on the front page of their website, and they never expire for Make A Wish. If you have some off balance of 8-10,000 miles and know you will not get to 50,000 to get to Hawaii next year, you can donate them to Make A Wish and they will not expire for them. If they had miles donated for all their travel wishes, they would need 44 million miles a year.
In the second part of the interview, Aaron and Stephanie talk with their latest Make A Wish child named Josiah. He is a vibrant and tough young man who was born with half a heart. He is a good example of most of the wish kids. They are resilient, tough, and worry more about their parents, grandparents, and siblings than they worry about themselves. Some of these kids just want to have time with the family where they can just be normal. A wish does this. A wish is important for the child and the entire family, and sometimes even the community. Make a Wish makes sure to include not only the parents, but the siblings as wells since sometimes they can be pushed back as priority. When one child is sick, this takes on a life of its own and the stress of the parents is incredible. When interview a Wish child with the family, they bring ice breaker presents and gifts to all the children and include them. Therefore, a wish is important for everybody. When they show their videos, they inspire so many people.
Stephanie and her husband are both volunteer wish granters. In her spare times, she tries to do 2-3 wishes a year herself. After she and her husband did her first wish, which was actually out in the Inland Empire, the first kid was also named Christopher. His wish was to have more dirt bike equipment so he could do more with his dad. Monster came in and did a lot of things, including getting him a new wardrobe and things for his bike. At the end, she got a call from the newspaper who wanted to know what her reaction was. She started with her marketing jargon, and then she just stopped. She said the minute Christopher got out of that limo to the second and last minute he got in to go home, all she saw was an ear to ear smile. Her advice is to never underestimate the power of the smile of a Wish child. It is life transformational. For Aaron, the word “hope” always comes into mind for all those involved and who get to witness the event.
Aaron asked what else people can do besides airline miles and cash gifts. Specifically in California, there are six chapters. Stephanie said these two are important, but they also need gift cards, backpacks, and toys for their toy closet. There are also volunteer opportunities. If people want to get more closely involved, you can become a wish granter. It is an intense two days of training. They also have a speaker’s bureau program. A lot of the children who are Wish kids often come back years later and want to volunteer. Sometimes, they even become staff members. There are many different ways to get involved. If you go to the website www.ocie.wish.org and click on volunteer and ways to help, there are a gazillion ways. You can also help by spreading the news. They have offices in Riverside and Orange County and help kids all the way to the Nevada border.
Aaron began his interview with Josiah and his parents, Steve and Myesha, by asking him when his wish happened. He said it happened in 2014 when he was 10. He lives locally in Moreno Valley. Aaron first asked him about the process and how you become a Wish kid. Josiah said he put in an application. He and his parents were watching a Raiders game, and they found a girl who had the same disease as him. She went to go meet the Oakland Raiders, and this is how they found out about the wish.
Josiah’s condition is hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means he was born with half of a heart. The left side did not develop all the way. However, he is doing much better now. When Aaron and Josiah went on to discuss his wish, he wondered how it started. He said the people with Make a Wish came to his house a year after he put in his application and interviewed him. He said they asked him what his wish was, which was to meet the Oakland Raiders. His wish was granted only a couple months later. He was picked up in a limo and got to fly up north to meet them with his parents and two brothers. He flew out of Ontario and got to spend three days there.
On the first day, they spent the day in San Francisco relaxing. At night, they walked around to look at the city. They saw Alcatraz, which he had never seen but had read about prior. The next morning, he got picked up in an SUV to go attend their practice. When they arrived, the cheerleaders were already outside to greet him. When he got there, Mr. Will of Public Relations took them around the facility. They saw all the Super Bowl championships. Then, he took him in to where Reggie McKenzie was, and he got his own contract. Aaron asked if this was part of his wish, which he said it was not. He is still officially an Oakland Raider for life.
Afterwards, they went on the sideline for practice. Here, he met Hall of Famer Willie Brown. He let Josiah wear his Super Bowl ring, and he gave him his Hall of Fame pen. Next, Jack Doreo called him over to the huddle and let him call out a play. Afterwards, they went to lunch where he had fettucine made for him. The players came down and talked to him, and he gave them some plays for the game. They took his advice.
The next day, they attended the game at 5:00. This was fun experience. There were so many people there, and during the National Anthem he got to see the planes overhead. He got to be on the field for the coin toss and got to be the honorary captain and call it. Good Morning America filmed him as he got to live out his dream. Aaron asked what his favorite part was, which he said was meeting the players and getting their autographs. There’s even a couple he still keeps in touch with to this day. Josiah is currently a ninth grader at Vista Del Lago. He hopes to be an NBA or NFL coach or commentator when he grows up.
Aaron next asked the parents what the wish meant for them. Myesha said when it gets to the point where you don’t know if your child will be here the next day, every day is precious. When they can actually get their dreams come true, it brings tears to their eyes. All you can do is smile, and it’s hope. The family got to be a part of the wish, so it was the whole family’s dream come true. It was nice to have a break from doctor and hospital visits, especially when you have to travel for these visits. It is nice to put it in the past, even for just a weekend, and see continuous smiles. It is an awesome feeling as a parent. Josiah’s’ biggest fan was his grandpa, who Aaron spoke to earlier.
Aaron asked if there was a noticeable difference after getting to go through the wish process. Myesha said definitely because the whole family goes through it together. Experiencing it all together was truly amazing. After coming back, they were able to face life again. Even his friends talked about how they saw him on tv. The Moreno Valley School District posted the information, the video, and news on their actual web page. They all go to see Josiah and his little brother.
Josiah took it a step further by being an ambassador for Make A Wish. This means he shows up at events to talk about his wish. Here, he can show people that the money they donate to Make A Wish is all worth it and does truly change lives. The Inland Empire is a big place, so there are a lot of wishes waiting to be granted. The family feels they have done so much for them, and they want to do anything they can to help them change another child’s life.
The Norris Group would like to thank its Gold Sponsors for supporting I Survived Real Estate: Coldwell Banker Town and Country, Guaranteed Rate and Nathan Chabolla, In A Day Development, Inland Valley Association of Realtors, Jason Thorman with Coldwell Banker, Jennifer Buys Houses, Keystone CPA, LA South REIA, Las Brisas Escrow, Michael Ryan & Associates, New Western, NorcalREIA, NSDREI, Orange County Real Estate Investors, the Outspoken Investor, Pacific Premier Bank, Pasadena FIBI, Pilot Limousine, RealWealth Network, Rick and LeeAnne Rossiter, SJREI, Spinnaker Loans, South OC REIA, Tri-Counties Association of Realtors, uDirect IRA Services, White House Catering. See www.isurvivedrealestate.com for event information.