When she was only 6 years old, Danielle Burns had a Golden Rule moment. She told her mother she was going to fly to Africa with suitcases full of water bottles when she was older. She had heard about the plight of some school children in Uganda who had to walk miles for clean water for their village.
Fast forwarding to age 17, a month into her Junior year in High School, Danielle was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began chemotherapy. She is now in remission and expected to make a full recovery but during the interim, the Make a Wish Foundation granted her a wish. Her Golden Rule Moment continues.
Danielle considered asking for a cruise to the Mediterranean, a backstage meeting with Taylor Swift, go on the “Ellen Show” or maybe even a chance to have lunch with Michelle Obama. She and her mother talked about this for some time during long lengthy chemotherapy sessions. Then one evening, Danielle said to her mother, “How can I go on a cruise and sail on water for 10 days when some people don’t have water to drink? It seems a little crazy for me to wish something for myself while there are literally thousands of kids in Africa who don‘t even have clean water in which to bathe, cook with or drink. While I have this “wish”, why not make a difference now? I want to build a well in Africa, something that would last far longer than brunch or a cruise. After all, I have my entire life to meet Taylor Swift or attend the Ellen Show, and who knows, maybe I’ll run in to Michelle Obama in Whole Foods someday.”
The wish granters had never heard of leveraging a wish in this way, but they made it happen. In response to Danielle’s request, Make-A-Wish partnered with Milford, Conneticut – based Uganda Farmers Inc. This nonprofit works to provide water for Uganda, a drought-ravaged East African nation where famine threatens more than 1.6 million people. They have been traveling to Africa for 11 years and have built seven clean water wells there.
Jane Holler, President and her husband, Dan Marecki, first vice president of the organization, helped make special “wish” come about since Make-A-Wish cannot directly support another nonprofit. “I’m overwhelmed. I come to tears every time I think about it,” Holler said.
Danielle wanted to do more to help, so the wish granters helped create a website so she also could raise the money for the well. It’s www.mywishforwater.com. Aside from helping with the website, Make-A-Wish will send Danielle to Uganda in 2019 to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the well.
The project, which includes a well with solar pumps, will bring clean water to 2,500 elementary children, High School students and orphanage children.
A few months ago Danielle met with the Rev. Godfrey Musabe, a graduate of one of those schools in Uganda who now lives in Boston. “This is very personal for me, as I used to walk for miles to fetch dirty water from a stream every day when I was at that school,” he said.
So far Danielle has raised about $10,000 for her well project and is still working at it. It is often stated, “A child shall lead them.” This is certainly true when you think about Danielle. There are so many things she could have wished for. Truly, her Golden Rule moment at the age of six been a blessing to this Golden Rule girl as she wished for something for someone else and saw it come about.
Kudos to Danielle, her family and Make-A-Wish for making this happen. Arizona Interfaith Movement lives for this kind of news, so as its Director, I hope this story inspires more thoughtfulness for others. Whether you’re six or sixty six, a Golden Rule moment is waiting to happen for you.
Golden Rule Moments by Rev. Larry Fultz, Executive Director, Arizona Interfaith Movement, Guest columnist
PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2018 The Arizona Republic 11/27/2018