Alverno alumna Yesica Desarden

Wish Come True

Just like a fairy godmother, Yesica Desarden ’14 makes dreams come true. However, she doesn’t need a magic wand.

As a wish coordinator for Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, Desarden works with Spanish-speaking families to grant the wish of a child with a critical illness (a “wish kid” in Make-A-Wish parlance). She makes all needed arrangements, whether that’s booking a trip to Disney World or hiring a contractor to make a family home wheelchair-accessible.

In the little over a year that Desarden has held this role, she estimates she has granted roughly 30 wishes. One of the most memorable was her very first wish, which was sending a 14-year-old boy and his family to Disney World.

“To be able to see a smile on the face of a nonverbal child with developmental delays — it was amazing,” she says, adding that the photos she received after the trip showed that the boy especially loved Mickey Mouse.

The joy that granting wishes brings can’t be overstated. However, it also brings so much more.

Healthy siblings, for instance, tend to be overlooked, as parents understandingly devote significant time and energy to the child who is ill. Getting away from the grind of daily life spreads the joy of the granted wish beyond the wish kid and allows families to reconnect. Take the older brother of the 14-year-old boy that Desarden sent to Disney, who was also wearing a big grin in the family photos she received after the trip.

“You are able to see the difference, physically and emotionally, in the child and their family,” she says. “It brings the family closer.”

Wishes can take months to coordinate, and they frequently require Desarden to exercise the problem-solving muscles she developed at Alverno. From missed flights to medical issues that arise during the trip, she juggles multiple wishes and issues as she works to make sure everyone has the best possible experience.

Another important part of Desarden’s job is community outreach, providing information to the Hispanic community about Make-A-Wish, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Overall, Desarden credits Alverno for not only giving her the know-how to succeed in her job but also the belief that she will succeed.

“That self-confidence that Alverno provided me with is why I am where I am today,” she says. “Had I not had this confidence and believed in myself, I wouldn’t have applied for this job. I wanted to challenge myself, to believe in myself and keep pushing forward.”

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