Channahon resident Preston Klug was the 800th individual to receive a wish from Shorewood HUGS on Thursday.
Shorewood HUGS, a nonprofit organization that grants hugs and wishes to those who are in need, delivered a wish Preston’s fifth-grade teacher at Minooka Intermediate School, Renee Heide, a cancer survivor, had submitted.
Preston, 9, was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare form of cancer that damages the tissue or causes lesions to form. After his most recent chemotherapy treatment
June 13, HUGS members Kellie Chasten, Martha Eaheart and Natalie Mareci visited Preston and his family.
“The delivery of the 800th wish was extra special to me. My daughter, Edie, had accompanied us since Preston is a classmate of hers. She had mentioned how much she admired his abilities to keep his grades up while going through his treatments this past school year,” Mareci said.
Chasten spoke to Heide before visiting Preston to explain they were going to deliver the wish. Heide asked the boy to open the door, as she had a surprise for him.
“The HUGS members and I showed up at Preston’s house to surprise him while he was on FaceTime with his teacher, Mrs. Heide,” she said.
Chasten, Eaheart and Mareci talked about the HUGS organization and how they were impressed with his strength and courage.
They gave him a large soccer net, tickets to a White Sox game and gift cards for him and his family.
Preston and his family played soccer for over an hour once it was set up, Chasten said.
Before presenting Preston with his wish, HUGS gave him a basket of all the items he was collecting, as he already was paying it forward by pulling together items for children who were undergoing chemotherapy.
“We were really impressed by his desire to help others while he was going through his treatment,” Chasten said.
The 800th wish is important for HUGS members because it marks
800 people they have helped in the past 11 years.
“Every time we reach a milestone, it allows for the opportunity to reflect on what a positive impact we made on the members of our community,” Mareci said.
In October, HUGS presented its 700th wish at the annual Hits for HUGS at Minooka High School to a third grader undergoing cancer treatments.
“We get to see our wish numbers climbing, and we know we need to keep granting wishes in order to hit the next milestone,” President Jenn MacDowell said. “It means that we are meeting our mission goals and delivering wishes within our community.”
The team consists of 28 women who work together to deliver wishes for people who reside within the 20-mile radius for Shorewood.
“Wishes are assigned to a group of women who are on the HUGS wishes committee, where they make a difference one HUG at a time,” said Natalie Mareci, chairman of the HUGS and Wishes Program. “Assigning the 800th wish is really a heartwarming accomplishment.”
For information about the HUGS organization or to submit a wish, visit shorewoodhugs.org.