Shareef Malnik is a man of great passion – a passion for business, a passion for family, and a passion for some of the most unfortunate among us.
No doubt you’ve heard of Make-A-Wish. These are the good people who grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
That’s important to note. Many people have the misconception that Make-A-Wish kids have to be terminally ill, Malnik said. That is not the case, and many children go on to survive their illnesses.
That could be due, in large part, to the granting of such an important wish to the child, Malnik said.
I think it breaks the cycle of anguish and pain – and provides hope for a better tomorrow.
“Hope cures anything. It really does,” Malnik said.
Malnik went to his first Make-A-Wish Ball here 22 years ago. Then, 13 years ago, he was asked to be the event chairman
It’s a role he has relished ever since.
All of the Make-A-Wish children are referred to the organization from the outside and are qualified by a medical professional.
After a child is qualified, he or she is brought into Make-A-Wish for an interview to help determine his or her true, heartfelt wish.
That, Malnik said, is not as easy as it sounds, but the Make-A-Wish staff and volunteers are skilled in helping the child narrow down the options.
So, I had to ask the question: If Make-A-Wish had a wish of its own, what would it be?
In other words, how can we help?
That’s easy, Malnik said. Simply do more of what’s already being done by so many – donate and volunteer.
“We have a community of givers. It’s such a wonderful thing. My heart is full,” he said.
There isn’t one eligible child who is referred to the organization that doesn’t get a wish, Malnik said. Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has fulfilled more than 11,000 wishes since its inception
“We never say no. We’ve done every wish, and we will always do every wish – because of the generosity of our community,” he said.
The next InterContinental Make-A-Wish Ball is set for Nov. 4 at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami. Lenny Kravitz will be performing.
Since 1983, Malnik said, Make-A-Wish has raised $125 million. The Ball has raised $21 million over the last 23 years.
“A wish doesn’t just impact the child. It changes the child’s life, and it changes their family’s life. But it also impacts a minimum of 200 people,” he said.
If you’re doing the math, that’s more than 2.2 million people impacted by Make-A-Wish Southern Florida alone.
“Talk about a bang for your buck. What other charity can you get involved in where you get involved with something that affects millions of people,” Malnik said.
To get involved with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, visit http://sfla.wish.org.
Click here to listen to the full interview with Shareef Malnik of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida.