LOS ANGELES (July 17, 2005) – Disney’s once-in-a-lifetime fundraising event held aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship last night generated more than $1 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. After Disney Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner presented the check to Make-A-Wish Foundation of America President and Chief Executive Officer David Williams, Disney President, Chief Operating Officer and CEO-Elect Bob Iger called upon Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to present Williams with a surprise second check for $1 million dollars donated by the company.
The $2 million will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and the Greater Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland Empire, Calif., chapters, helping them continue their mission of granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
Those who attended the party and participated in the fun, interactive events with guests aboard the Disney Cruise Line ship included: Kelly Preston (Sky High), Paige Hemmis and Paul DiMeo (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Randy Jackson (American Idol), Raven-Symoné and Kyle Massey (That’s So Raven), Amy Bruckner (The Suite Life), Christy Carlson Romano (Kim Possible), Kurtwood Smith (That 70’s Show), Diane Disney Miller (Silverado Winery), Ashley Parker Snider (Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard), Mark Hoppus (Blink 182), Skateboarder Bob Burnquist, Los Angeles Dodgers Eric Gagne and Jason Phillips, Los Angeles Angel Tim Salmon, Los Angeles King Steve Avery, Green Bay Packer Ahman Green and Cincinnati Bengal TJ Houshmanzadeh.
Honorary Cruise Directors, who helped to raise pre-awareness and support for the event, were: Jim Belushi, Candice Bergen, Tom Bergeron, Amanda Bynes, Jackie Chan, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Garner, Chris Harrison, Teri Hatcher, Tony Hawk, Felicity Huffman, Hugh Jackman, George Lopez, Garry Marshall, Christy Carlson Romano, John Stamos and Raven-Symoné.
Disney’s history of wish granting started when Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955 and hosted children from around the world. In 1980, Disney joined together with the newly launched Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the Foundation’s first official wish – a trip to Disneyland for 7-year-old Frank “Bopsy” Salazar. Today, Disney fulfills more than 5,000 wishes each year, with a Disney theme park visit remaining the Foundation’s most requested wish.
Said Eisner: “Walt created Disneyland ‘with the hope that it would become a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.’ And it is… Disneyland was the site of the very first wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it remains a very special place that nurtures children’s hopes, fulfills their dreams and makes their wishes come true.”
Other one-of-a-kind wish experiences requested include taking a Disney cruise, working with Disney animators, meeting favorite Disney talent and characters or visiting the sets of Disney films and television shows.
Added Iger: “Walt Disney would be proud that on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, we recognize, celebrate and continue his legacy of making wishes come true through our work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
During the evening, one child had her special wish granted. The wish of 12-year-old Elizabeth “Ashley” Gullap of Ripley, Miss., was to see what it’s like to be a star and attend a red carpet event with Disney Channel’s Raven-Symoné. Her dream was fulfilled when she arrived in a limousine and the two walked the red carpet together, posing for photographers and even participating in media interviews together. American Idol’s Randy Jackson joined the two on the carpet, surprising Ashley and greeting her with a big hug. Then it was on to Rockin’ Bar D where the two greeted guests and signed autographs for fans. Since the debut of “That’s So Raven” in 2003, Raven-Symoné has granted 31 wishes.
Said Williams: “This generous gift is just one example of the remarkable commitment Disney has made to the Make-A-Wish mission through the years. We thank them for underwriting this event so that all proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we look forward to continuing our special relationship with Disney in bringing hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions.”
Former wish recipients were also on hand to provide inspiration to the evening’s special guests. Ohio’s Travis Flores, 14 and undergoing treatment for cystic fibrosis, had his book “The Spider Who Never Gave Up” published in 1999 and was on hand to sign autographs while celebrities read his story to children in attendance.
Special Ambassador children aboard were Lydia Romero, 6, from West Covina, Calif., Jonathon Poole, 9, from Los Angeles, Gannon Eck, 8, and Courtney Faye-Smith, 10, from San Clemente, Calif. Thirty other wish families were also aboard to enjoy the festivities.
Admiral Sponsors of Disney’s “An Evening of Magic” were American Airlines and the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation.
In addition to the fundraiser, Disney’s support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation this year included Wishes! — a compilation CD presented by Walt Disney Records and DisneyHand that features Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Tony Bennett and many more singing classic Disney songs that reflect upon the power of wishes, friendship and hope. The CD offers a newly recorded track, “Wishes,” performed by Peabo Bryson and Kimberley Locke. The moving song was performed live by the duo to cap off the night’s festivities. For each “Wishes!” CD purchased, DisneyHand donates $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
This October, Disneyland will host the Make-A-Wish 25th Anniversary Conference. Disney plans to host wish children from around the globe to join the anniversary celebration.
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wish.org
For more information on Disney’s philanthropic efforts, visit www.disneyhand.com