Every 35 minutes the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfills a request for a child battling a life-threatening illness.
Most kids wish for a trip to Disney World or a visit from their favorite celebrity, but 11-year-old Anna Getner’s dream was to improve her local shelter and help dogs get adopted.
The sixth grader from Wilton, Connecticut completed a grueling treatment regimen for Leukemia that began more than 2 years ago. When the Connecticut chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted her to find out her one true wish, Anna thought about what gave her the most joy. The answer was her rescue dog, Franklin.
Anna decided that she wanted to help shelter dogs find their forever homes and help families experience the love and devotion only a pet can provide. She envisioned a warm, inviting playroom at the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Norwalk where dogs could spend time with potential adopters in a comfortable setting.
The Make A Wish Foundation teamed up with Blue Buffalo, area businesses and volunteers to create Anna’s vision based on her very own design. Blue Buffalo was so impressed with Anna’s selflessness that they decided to donate a lifetime supply of food to PAWS in her honor – a gift worth thousands to the non-profit shelter.
The finished product was unveiled to Anna along with her friends and family this past February. The Mayor of Norwalk presented the young survivor with a proclamation honoring her generosity of spirit. Anna wrote a speech for the event that was delivered by her stepfather. She wrote in part:
“I love animals, especially dogs, and it makes me sad when they don’t have a home. We rescued my dog Franklin four years ago. He’s like a brother to me. I hope all the animals at PAWS find their forever home and make families happy the same way that Franklin has made me happy.”
Anna’s Dog Park is a large, open space within the shelter featuring a picnic table and park bench. The walls are covered in a lovely mural featuring bright landscapes and photos of Anna and Franklin playing. It is a place full of joy, love and hope that only a child could have created.
Pam Keogh, president and CEO of Make-a-Wish Connecticut had this to say about Anna’s inspiring wish:
“This is our 30th year and we’ve done 2,500 wishes. I don’t know of doing any wish like this before. This is so unique and a testament to Anna, to choose to give back and help these animals.”