WZPL Request-A-Thon grants Hoosier teen’s Make-A-Wish experience to swim with manatees

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Make-A-Wish organization grants special experiences for Hoosier children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Every month, CBS4 shares a story about a Hoosier family impacted by Make-A-Wish.

The Make-A-Wish organization's biggest fundraiser each year is the WZPL Request-A-Thon. The radio event is coming up the first week of December. CBS4 is proud to be involved with this year's WZPL Request-A-Thon.

This December marks the 20th year for the WZPL Request-A-Thon. More than $6 million has been raised for the Make-A-Wish organization right here in Central Indiana. Dave Smiley hosts the Smiley Morning Show. Smiley will take your cash and requests for 36 hours!

"It is so much fun. There are a lot of sad moments and happy moments.  You donate money to get a request on the air. So there is a lot of fun stuff going on. We play thunderstruck by ACDC and Miley Cyrus.  Then, the other side is the Make-A-Wish and making money and getting these kids these wishes granted," says Smiley.

Alena Damer is a Wish Kid who got her wish granted by Hoosiers calling in and donating at last year's Request-A-Thon.

"I got to help the injured manatees," says Alena.

The 15-year-old finished fighting leukemia this Spring, and to celebrate, Alena wished to go to Florida with her family to save the threatened species.

"The wish was the light at the end of the tunnel! I think it helped me by seeing what I can do to help the manatees. That is where my interests lie and to help those who need it more than me. I am extremely fortunate to be alive today and still be standing and still be healthy," she says.

The radio host says the most money from the WZPL Request-A-Thon comes from Hoosiers donating $10 or $20 to Make-A-Wish. Donors can call in with one-time gifts or monthly gifts, and Hoosier kids like Alena battling life-threatening medical conditions get their wish granted!

"Having a wish at the end was all worth it," Alena says.

Adds Smiley, "Donate some money! If you are thinking about it right now, put a can at the work office. Teachers at schools. Let’s do this, Hoosiers! Let’s make this the biggest year yet!"

Last year's Request-A-Thon granted 78 wishes. The goal this year is to grant 80 wish experiences for Hoosier children.

CBS4's Nicole Pence will broadcast LIVE on CBS4 This Morning during the WZPL Request-A-Thon on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.

New this year, Make-A-Wish will collect donations at "pit stops" throughout Indianapolis, including Monument Circle, Perry Meridian High School, Bishop Chatard and Hamilton Southeastern.

In Indiana, more than 300 kids are waiting for their wishes to be granted by Make-A-Wish. The average cost of a wish is about $8,000.

Click here to learn more about Make-A-Wish.

Watch CBS4 on the second Wednesday each month for Nicole Pence's special Wishful Wednesday stories.

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