Morgan Legerski, Casper born and raised, is the CEO of Make-A-Wish Wyoming, which grants wishes to children with serious illnesses. Previous to her time at the nonprofit, she worked in the oil and gas industry for a family trucking company and as a financial representative.
The Make-A-Wish Stories of Light Gala, the program’s largest fundraiser, is 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at The Hangar in Bar Nunn. Tickets are still available at $100 each by calling 234-9474 or visiting the website, wyoming.wish.org.
What happens at the Stories of Light Gala? For the second year, we are displaying granted wishes as “exhibits.” It’s a really fun kind of a way for people to see more behind the scenes what a wish experience is for our kiddos. There is almost a museum feel to them and some of the children will be there. Megan, a 16-year-old from Laramie, had a wish to visit a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica. It was the first sloth wish we’ve ever had. She and her family went in July and they had an incredible time.
That must have been pricey, getting them to Costa Rica. Travel wishes in general can be really hard; fortunately sometimes people donate their airline miles to us. The cool thing is they never expire when they are donated to us. We use 6 million airline miles just in Wyoming to grant wishes each year.
And there are live auction items as well? One of our items is a guided fly-fishing trip, but this one is a little different. Nathan was one of our former Wish kids. In 1996, when he was really sick with Ewing’s Sarcoma, we gave him a computer for his wish. Now he’s a local optometrist and fly-fishing is his passion. So he will be the guide on the fly-fishing trip that is an auction item. He has guided for Crazy Rainbow for a number of years, and he’s excited to give back to our program.
Tell us about the home decorating auction package. We have a 5 and 1/2 foot long antler chandelier created by Shawn Rivett. He donated half and got a donor to donate the other half. And he arranged for delivery and electrical installation to be donated as well. And the package includes a gift certificate to Mustard Seed Gifts and an interior design consultation.
The evening starts with wine? We are so fortunate Poplar Wine & Spirits does the wine tasting from 6 to 7 p.m. The event wouldn’t be quite the same without the wine tasting. And hors d’oeuvres during the wine tasting this year will be from Brattis Meat Market. Then we’ll have a gourmet dinner by the Hangar. And interspersed through the evening will be some really fun wish moments. It’s a night for showing the impact these wishes have on these families’ lives. You don’t really understand what we do until you hear it from a wish mom or wish child themselves.
How many Wyoming wishes are pending? Right now we are working to grant wishes of 32 children. We granted 36 wishes in 2016, which is the most we had done in a single year.
What’s the average cost of a wish? Right at $8,000. The goal for Saturday is $200,000. We were right there, $180- to $190,000 last year. We are really fortunate. People here are really generous and really connected with our mission.
Talk about collaboration with high schools. The Kids for Wish Kids program is made up of student councils from all over the state who do fundraising for us. It’s neat to see them learn about philanthropy at such a young age. It’s a very real thing for them because a lot of times they are raising money to help grant the wish of a neighbor or classmate or someone they know in the community. They raise about $150,000 collectively for us each year.