Doctor Makes a Difference for Local Children

By Chuck Manker

For Dr. Mukund Dole, staff pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital and a member of the board of directors of A Special Wish Foundation, Dayton Chapter, what’s most rewarding about being involved with ASW is the positive effect a granted wish has on his patients and their families.

“One of the best things we see in our program at the hospital is a child about to go on a wish or a child that has just come back from a wish,” he said. “These kids are excited for days, weeks or months before they leave and talk about what they’re going to do. When they come back they are excited and happy and talk about all their experiences.”

In addition to three people staffing the office of A Special Wish Foundation, Dayton Chapter, a board of directors governs the organization. As a 501c3 non-profit, the board is required by law.

The board meets monthly to conduct business that includes reviewing and voting on wish requests prepared by the office staff. Besides Dr. Dole, members of the volunteer board are Lisa Allan, Katie Arnett, Chris Bennington, Claudia Birch, Amy Cook, Melinda Eubel, Jim Heikes, Chuck Manker, Abby Riedel, Fran Robinson and Lisa Tucker.

“The Special Wish board is a working board. That means board members not only attend board meetings, but they also deliver wishes to the recipients, attend or work at fundraising and other events, and speak to groups,” said Bennington, the board chair.

One board position has been filled for many years by pediatricians. Dr. Dole joined the ASW board in 2013. He cares for children with blood disorders and various types of cancer.

Although a child’s physician completes an ASW form to indicate the child has a life-threatening disorder, Dr. Dole reviews the forms. Sometimes he will talk with the child’s doctor about questions he may have, he said.

“I hope my presence on the board helps other members understand some of these medical conditions and disorders and puts things in perspective,” Dr. Dole said. “Having a physician who can explain the nature of the medical conditions helps other board members understand if a wish is justified.”

Dr. Dole, who has been at Children’s Hospital for almost 20 years, joined the board after Dr. Rick Smith, his predecessor asked him to consider it as he prepared to leave the board after several years.

“Our department has referred a steady stream of children to A Special Wish for almost 20 years, so when I got this opportunity (to join the board) I was very excited,” Dr. Dole said. “In the last three years I have been very impressed with the dedication and work by the board, and how much effort by the staff goes into granting a wish.”

All the families are very happy and have pleasant memories of their wish whether it’s going to Walt Disney World, meeting a special person, or a shopping spree. It’s one of the best things we can do for these children who are suffering from life-threating illnesses. It makes a big difference.”

Dr. Dole takes even takes it a step further. “I think that being granted a wish improves a child’s self-esteem and it helps them go through their treatment and follow up with a more positive frame of mind,” he said. “When I see children come back from a wish trip, I see a whole different child.” And, it helps families, too, according to Dr. Dole who said he can see the positive effects of a wish on them. They talk about it for weeks afterward.