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Monday, June 10, 2024

2021 Capital Region Gives Back: William Trigg, CEO, Make-A-Wish Northeast NY

Trigg and the local Make-A-Wish chapter grant 85-95 Wishes per year.

This story is part of a larger feature on 10 do-gooders from Saratoga and the rest of the Capital Region. To meet the other nine honorees and purchase tickets for annual fundraising event, visit our Capital Region Gives Back event page.

Childhood diseases certainly didn’t disappear during the pandemic, and William Trigg’s drive to make sure that making sick kids’ dreams come true didn’t either—despite the obstacles.

The CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York explains that yes, during the pandemic travel wishes were temporarily forced to a halt (up to 60 percent of local Wish Kids choose a trip to Disney World). But other wishes still trickled in, allowing the delivery of something sometimes in short supply during COVID: hope.

“Hope doesn’t just happen; you have to create it,” Trigg says. “The impact of these wishes is helping these kids believe in possibilities beyond their immediate illness.”

One misconception about Make-A-Wish is that all Wish Kids have terminal illnesses. But that isn’t true; in fact, 80 percent survive. And for children who are in and out of hospitals, a wish can change the course of their entire lives. One such teenager, for example, wanted to meet the developers of her favorite video game. Not only did they create a character for her for her wish, but she went on to Harvard and then landed an internship with the developers. “These wishes,” Trigg says, “are a life-changing experience.”

Those popular Disney trips have recommenced, with Make-A-Wish now making up for lost time. An average fiscal year sees the Northeast New York chapter granting 85 to 95 wishes, while only about a third as many were granted in the first 15 months of the pandemic. (Successful mid-lockdown wishes included virtual shopping sprees and the building of a theme park–worthy tree house in a child’s backyard.) With little ability for in-person fundraising during COVID, many wishes (an average one costs $12,000) were individually funded.

“You learn very quickly that you’re not just helping the kids; you’re helping the families,” Trigg says. “It even has a ripple effect of hope that goes through the whole community.”

Abby Tegnelia
Abby Tegnelia
Abby Tegnelia is the chief executive officer of Capital Region Living and Saratoga Living. She previously worked at New York magazine, Glamour and Us Weekly, and has contributed to Marie Claire, Women's Wear Daily and Maxim.

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