Article originally published in the May 2016 Issue of Berks County Living
Jarrod and Michelle Renninger founded the One Wish Foundation in 2011 to grant “one wish, one dream, one life, one memory that lasts forever.” Five years later they have been able to grant so much more than just one wish, and have high hopes for the future.
One Wish, One Family
The mission of the One Wish Foundation is to provide children and veterans coping with illness and disabilities with the opportunity to experience the natural healing qualities of the outdoors by granting a wish for an outdoor adventure. They handle everything from obtaining medical clearance and ensuring all necessary safety precautions, to planning a few-day adventure for the child or veteran and their entire family. Jarrod explained that “the biggest thing is that for those few days they don’t think about a doctor, they don’t think about a needle, or a hospital. They’re thinking about their family.”
Family is OWF’s priority, and the children become part of the OWF family throughout the process. Regular phone calls and visits by dedicated volunteers help to establish a lifelong bond before ever leaving home. Memories of the trip can be kept forever too, a film crew goes along to record the entire experience.
Spreading the Love
OWF started out as a dream to build a year-round camp. The foundation’s fundraising efforts are largely to purchase 1000 to 2000 acres of property here in Pennsylvania to build the One Wish Ranch. They will continue to plan one or two adventures each year, but the ranch could provide many more families with a much needed escape. “They may only have a day or two free in the middle of the week, so I want to be able to hand over a set of keys anytime, as long as they are able to get away from the reality of what they consider normal life.”
The Renningers are hopeful about the progress they have made so far. “If we have the same amount of growth over the next four to five years I think we’re going to be looking for that ranch,” Jarrod said. But One Wish won’t stop there. “The ultimate dream, 20 years from now, is to have ten ranches across the country.”
A Community United
With the help of many local corporate sponsors and donors, the team at One Wish is hopeful that the ranch will soon become a reality. Each year the group hosts Operation One Wish, a family night out and fundraiser to raise money and awareness. Local sportsman associations and VFWs are also lending a hand by hosting events on behalf of One Wish. “Our growth is all based on what we can do in our local communities,” Jarrod said. “It’s a good feeling, it’s communities working together for a common cause.” The foundation has also begun working on official apparel and outdoor equipment that will be available for sale online.
The foundation’s biggest struggle has been finding applicants. Due to privacy laws they have had trouble getting introduced into local children’s hospitals. They ask that if you want to help, please spread the word. If you know a family that could use a wish, or you want to get involved, visit onewishfoundation.org.
Did You Know?
Home Makeover: Inspiration Edition The Teas family on Extreme Makeover Home Edition served as the inspiration for OWF. The family founded an outdoor camp for disabled children.
Queuing for a Cause Tickets for this year’s Operation One Wish event went on sale in early February, and sold out in 29 hours.