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Dickinson Noon Lions host annual Make-A-Wish benefit

The Dickinson Noon Lions hosted its annual Make-A-Wish North Dakota Benefit this past weekend, and revealed a boy’s wish that will soon come true.

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Cooper Craig (center) poses for a shot with Sgt. Justin Fridrich (left) and Officer Andrew Stidham of the Dickinson Police Department Saturday, May 22, 2021, during the Make-A-Wish North Dakota Benefit hosted by the Dickinson Noon Lions. Craig's wish was revealed and will be able to ride along with the Dickinson Police Department in June. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

The Make-A-Wish North Dakota Benefit kicked off another successful event this past weekend in Dickinson, marking it as the top fundraiser in the state for the organization that helps grant wishes for kids with a critical illness between the ages of 2 1/2 to 18 years old.

The Dickinson Noon Lions has been the host of this benefit for the past 20 years, Make-A-Wish North Dakota Regional Director Amanda Godfread said, adding that Dickinson Noon Lions President Kelly Braun and his wife began this event with their “wedding dance to this whole big fun family affair.”

“What I think is so special about this event is so often with fundraisers, they are very formal and it’s adults only. (But) this is such a kid-friendly environment, so that not only allows for area families to come but also our wish families. And they feel so comfortable and welcomed and (they feel) like a part of the night,” Godfread said.

The Dickinson community is an “unbelievable community,” Godfread said, in making an event like this work and showing support to a cause that helps children dare to dream big.

“This event plays an enormous role in helping us to be able to fulfill that. We’re very lucky in our state in how generous people are not only with their finances for an event like this but their time too. I mean this takes an (enormous) amount of time to organize leading up to, then setting up and tearing down and all of that,” Godfread said. “Our goal with this event … is just to be able to continue granting every eligible child’s wish.”

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The family nature is another feature that draws families to this event, with bouncy houses, live auctions, 50/50 raffle, card game and a lollipop game.

Godfread said that the organization estimates that 50 children in North Dakota are diagnosed with a qualifying illness. Make-A-Wish North Dakota’s goal is to find enough volunteers and financial resources to serve those children.

“Wishes come in all shapes and sizes, too. Kids wish for things as simple and straight forward as a puppy. They might ask to become someone, like I want to become Hulk or want to become Elsa or something like that,” Godfread said, adding that other children wish to travel to scenic parks, concerts or sports games.

The annual event raises more than $150,000 each year that goes toward Make-A-Wish. The Dickinson Eagles Club also donated $15,000 to the Dickinson Noon Lions, which will help benefit this cause in granting kids wishes.

Granting a kid’s wish is a way for them to feel normal, Godfread said.

“For the kid, it’s an opportunity to think outside of their illness because so much of what they do is determined by ‘how I am feeling, what medicine do I have to take, am I going into surgery, am I having to do therapies to recover.’ It’s all focused on that illness,” she said. “So a wish is really a chance to think outside of that. If you think about it, the illness really takes away the care-free nature of childhood. And so, just getting to dream big and shoot for the moon and think crazy thoughts about what this could be.”

The Dickinson Police Department also was at Saturday’s event to grant Cooper Craig’s wish of riding along with a police officer. Craig will be able to make his wish a reality in June.

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