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Ellen R. Delisio headshot

Subaru and Make-A-Wish Create Joyous Memories for Families

Children’s greatest wishes are coming true in the Chicago suburbs. From family vacations to bedroom makeovers, Autobarn Subaru of Countryside and Make-A-Wish Illinois are helping to create irreplaceable experiences for critically ill children and their families.
Subaru Make-A-Wish Illinois recipient

One of the recipients of Autobarn Subaru of Countryside's work with Make-A-Wish Illinois, who wished for a bedroom makeover complete with a gaming console to power one of his favorite hobbies. (Image courtesy of Make-A-Wish Illinois)

Children’s greatest wishes are coming true in the Chicago suburbs. From family vacations to bedroom makeovers, Autobarn Subaru of Countryside and Make-A-Wish Illinois are helping to create irreplaceable experiences for critically ill children and their families.

“Over the past eight years that Autobarn has worked with Make-A-Wish, the retailer has granted more than 35 wishes for children in the community,” said Richard Fisher, managing partner of Autobarn, a long-time family business. “We’re very lucky to be involved with Subaru and Make-A-Wish. It makes us feel good, too. We’re a local business, and we care about the community and its businesses.”

“They truly understand that a wish is not just a fleeting moment in time, but a journey that provides hope, strength and joy to children when they need it most,” added Stephanie Eckert, corporate gift officer for Make-A-Wish Illinois. “This is the best promise that Subaru and Autobarn Subaru of Countryside can make to the children in our community – that they will be there to ensure their wish journey will be a magical experience of discovery and joy.”

Subaru of America has partnered with Make-A-Wish for the past 12 years as part of the Subaru Love Promise, the company’s commitment to be a positive force in the communities where employees live and work.  It’s the largest automotive donor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and, together with its retailers, Subaru has donated over $32 million to help grant more than 3,300 wishes nationwide.

Autobarn Subaru of Countryside selected Make-A-Wish as its hometown charity through the annual Subaru Share the Love Event. During the annual charitable initiative, which is held between November and January, Subaru and its participating retailers donate at least $250 to a customer’s chosen national or hometown charity for every new vehicle purchase or lease.

“The Share the Love Event with Subaru is something special,” Fisher said. “Together with Subaru, we don’t just say, we do. Subaru really puts its money where its mouth is. And 12 years later, it’s still going strong. It’s not a one-time thing.”

About three dozen Autobarn Subaru of Countryside employees also participated in the Walk for Wishes fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Illinois, along with a host of movie characters that added to the excitement for younger participants. “Our team wanted to get involved personally,” Fisher said. “It’s a feel-good thing … It makes you realize life is special, and you appreciate it more.”

That involvement means something for the dealer, employer and customer, he added. “You feel a part of something that gives back, which is what employees want. It’s not just writing a check and moving on.”

Wish requests vary widely. “People are different about what they want and love,” 
Fisher said. No matter the wish, family reactions are among the most rewarding parts of the program. “Just seeing someone smile — when you see someone who doesn’t have it easy, when you see them able to smile and have a good time, that’s what it comes down to,” Fisher said. 

Recipients’ families are celebrated together when the wishes are granted, and after the wishes are fulfilled, families often return to the retailer for a reception.

A trip to her favorite California theme park was one kid’s wish, and they were able to get the support they needed to make it possible. Their daughter uses a wheelchair, has a seizure disorder and a genetic disorder, and is non-verbal. “The family doesn’t have it easy,” Fisher said. “But just to see the family be able to take a break and have a vacation, just seeing the dad and mom sharing such a loving interaction with their daughter [was gratifying].”

One boy wished for his whole bedroom to be remodeled with a new bed, TV monitors and a game console. “If you are 12, that’s your dream to have all the cool stuff,” he said.

“The Autobarn Subaru of Countryside, its owners, employees, and customers truly ‘share the love’ and embrace the power of wish, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the whole year,” the Make-A-Wish Illinois representative said. “We could not be more grateful for the support.”

The team at Autobarn Subaru of Countryside also supports other causes locally. They donate blankets, hats and gloves to local shelters, supports local public schools through volunteering and other projects, and work with the local humane society by sponsoring an adoption event to help dogs find forever homes, during which the retailer covers adoption fees.
“We try to help any way we can,” Fisher said. “We try and stay as involved as we can. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Fisher encouraged people and corporations to pitch in where they live, too. “I always tell more people to get involved — it’s the most rewarding thing you can do. If you have the means to do so, you should. We’re very focused on what we can do, and whatever it takes to make people happy. If we hadn’t gotten involved, we might not have been able to share in their joy.”

This article series is sponsored by Subaru of America and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team. 

Ellen R. Delisio headshot

Ellen R. Delisio is a freelance writer and paraeducator who lives in Middletown, CT.  Over the past 30 years, her writing has focused on life science, sustainability and education issues. Ellen is an avid reader and beach-goer.

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