A wish come true

Hoping to make a child’s wish come true, one local girl is organizing a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Festival of Wishes: A Disney Revue” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Williamsport Area Middle School. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. for a Disney character meet and greet.

The revue will be comprised of a cast of 17 high school students from various Lycoming County schools and a children’s choir of 13 students.

Zoe Wagner began her interest in raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation after her brother, Zane, wanted her involvement in the benefits he organized.

“I was real young when Zane started his benefits and did not really have a choice,” Wagner said. “I think he wanted me for the cute factor, but once I realized what these events do and after meeting some ‘wish’ kids, I couldn’t wait to participate in the next event.”

With Zane out of the county, Wagner put on her first event earlier this year in February which raised $4,888 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We are looking forward to this year’s event and hope to raise enough money to support a ‘wish,'” Wagner’s mother, Christine R. Wagner, said.

Wagner knows firsthand the good a ‘wish’ can do a child. Her family was in the middle of organizing their sixth benefit concert in 2015 when she was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“I always knew I wanted to fill Zane’s shoes, but after my ‘wish’ was granted, my desire to direct my own events only grew stronger,” Wagner said. “I saw firsthand what amazing things the Make-A-Wish Foundation does and I want to help others receive their ‘wish.'”

She chose the theme “Festival of Wishes: A Disney Revue” because the most popular ‘wish’ children ask for is to go to Disney World, which makes a Disney song concert a fitting benefit, she said.

The concert’s singers were selected through the drama and music department at the Williamsport Area School, as well as people Wagner has met through the Community Theatre League.

Wagner has participated in five benefits and has seen them change since she began her involvement.

“It all started with a concert but has grown over the years,” she said. “It is a production/show with Disney characters meet and greet before the show. A number of sponsors and raffle items have increased over the years.”

The concert is free to attend, but donations will be accepted at the door. Some of the raffle items include jewelry, designer bags, gift cards and gift certificates to local businesses.

“The most challenging part about putting on this benefit is keeping everything organized and managing time well,” Wagner said. “There’s a lot to be done to put on a show and making sure all the little things get completed before show night is probably the most challenging part.”

However, putting on a benefit concert comes with its own perks, the most rewarding “being able to get together with my friends and being able to use our talents to help make a difference in the lives of others,” she said.

A number of volunteers help ensure that the concert runs smoothly. Many of the volunteers are family members, friends and students looking for service hours for National Honor Society, she said.