Imagine celebrating your next birthday quietly with no cake, no decorations, and no presents. Now imagine you’re a kid who just wants to spend your birthday in the spotlight, soaking up the attention of friends and family at a big party. For some local children, a party isn’t an element of their birthday reality because their family’s other financial obligations must be addressed first. Two local kids decided to take action and change that reality for those in need around Orlando.
In 2012, brother-and-sister team, Johnny and Gabrielle Wright, decided not to ask for presents for their birthday. Instead, they asked for donations, which they used to found A Birthday Party Wish, a non-profit organization that plans and executes birthday parties for local kids in need. Each child who is gifted with their own birthday party gets to help in the planning process, from choosing the venue and theme to requesting a specific type of cake.
One of those lucky kids is Becky Camille, who celebrated her 10th birthday at Fun Spot last June with the help of A Birthday Party Wish. Her mom, Marie Camille, says it was her daughter’s dream to have a big party and that seeing the joy on Becky’s face was the best part of the day. After her party, Becky was encouraged to donate one of her gifts back to charity for another child in need. This act of paying it forward, which is asked of all kids who receive a birthday party from the organization, teaches them that they can make a difference too.
The most unique part of A Birthday Party Wish is that it is run by kids, for kids. Since the beginning, Johnny and Gabrielle encouraged their friends to get involved, and there are now more than 25 volunteers that make up the children’s board. It is the board’s responsibility to plan the birthday parties as well as to organize the fundraisers that help to make the parties possible, and they meet regularly to make it happen. The kids contact possible host locations to see if they will offer discounts for the parties, and they work with the birthday boys and girls to make sure all of their wishes are granted.
A recent fundraiser the group held at Epcot’s Test Track generated over $20,000 for the organization. “We couldn’t have the birthday parties without the fundraisers and we couldn’t have the fundraisers without having birthday parties to plan,” says 10-year-old Tyler Moorman of Lake Nona, a member of the children’s board.
The volunteers behind A Birthday Party Wish strive to bring happiness to every child because they deserve to celebrate their birthday surrounded by the friends and family who care for them. They also teach a powerful message to all involved: Everyone has the power to make a difference.