Meet the Londoners working to make a meaningful difference in our community
Bob & Alexandra Kayser
Passion: Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario
“ALEXANDRA AND I chose to move to London when I retired in 2001 to be close to family. We were looking for opportunities to actively contribute time, talent and treasure, and Make-A-Wish became our first charitable focus. We became involved after meeting Jenna Quick and her family, who were neighbours of our daughter’s family in Ilderton. Jenna’s wish was a trip to Disney World.
That was 15 years ago. Since then, Alexandra and I have had the honour of fulfilling the wishes of about 20 Wish kids. We also went through the formal training process to become Wish Grantors, and have had the opportunity once or twice a year to be the people who deliver wishes. We’ve also been involved in speaking engagements and in fundraising, and I’m a semi-professional photographer, so I’ve photographed a number of Wishes and special events. Our photos hang in several places around town.
We also established the Kayser Family Foundation and Donor Advised Fund with the London Community Foundation and donate to several charities each year with a focus on three priorities that are important to us: women, children and healthcare.
We believe in the vision of creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Fifteen years ago, the average cost to grant a wish was less than $5,000. Now the average cost is around $10,000. What differentiates Make-A-Wish is that we involve the parents and siblings. Half of the Wish kids still choose a trip to Disney World. Around 20 per cent have other travel destinations, from Hawaii to swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas.
There are also unique wishes, from a bedroom makeover to electronics to wheelchair accessible play equipment for the backyard. And about 10 per cent are celebrity wishes. The WWE wrestler John Cena is really popular—he was just involved with his 600th Make-A-Wish meeting.
Make-A-Wish is a volunteer-driven organization. With ever increasing referrals and requests, we need to grow our resources and our volunteer teams. The personal reward of helping Make-A-Wish kids is truly profound and life-changing.”