|Wish I Could was founded in 1984 by Ann Hale along with Jean Cooper
and Wilena Blake.|
The inspiration for Wish I Could was a 5 yr. old boy named Toby Green, who
had been diagnosed with lukemia. Ann Hale was a friend of the Green family and
when she found out about Toby's illness she contacted Dreams Come True of Denham
Springs,LA to grant him a wish. After granting Toby's wish, Dreams Come True
came up to Dunn, LA and met with Ann to help her get the Wish I Could
organization started. As far as we know, it still remains the only children's
wish granting organization in Louisiana, north of Baton Rouge. We believe
(but we are not absolutely sure) that the organization was not incorporated
until 1998, and the name was then changed from Wish I Could to Wish I Could of
The first fundraiser was held at Ann Hale's store in Dunn, LA. Members of
the Dunn community donated baked beans, potato salad, and cake, and Ann
provided bar-b-que chicken for the fund raiser. These bar-b-que dinners were
sold out of Ann Hale's store for $5.00 per plate with the volunteer help of the
Dunn community. Most, but not all, of the volunteers were members of the Dunn
Baptist Church and/or relatives of the Green family. Now the organization
handles the concessions at the Rayville Farm Auction and holds an annual
Marengo Swamp Ride. We believe that between 1984-1985 was the year we were
given the concessions at the Farm Auction. In 1985 Leonard Tullus started the
Marengo Swamp Ride. The attendance at the first ride was 150 bikes at $5.00
per bike. Over the years this has increased to an average of 3600 bikes with a
$15.00 pre-registration fee and $20.00 pay at the gate fee. In that time the
mud ride has become a nationally known event. There have been at least 17
states represented at our ride.
At one point, Wish I Could of NELA was moved to Columbia, LA and remained
there for three years. It was then was moved to the office it occupies now in
Rayville, LA. During that time many records were lost but some of the original
members, who are still an active part of the organization, believe that the
child that recieved the first wish was a 7-8 yr. old girl with lukemia named
Christal(last name unknown).
Do to the success of the Marengo Swamp Ride and the fact that we are a
non-profit charitable organization we are also able to donate funds to other
non-profit organizations like St. Jude, Baptist Childrens Home, Shriners
Hospital of Shreveport, Barak Shriners Transportation Department of Monroe,
Medcamp of Louisiana, and MDA (Muscular Distrophy Association).
We always welcome new members and/or volunteers to our organization. Our
open meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:00 pm.
Membership dues are only $12.00 per year. We are located at 711 Louisa St. in
Rayville, LA. We would love to see you there.
We hope we have clearly answered all of your questions. Please feel free
to email, call or write to us at any time if you have any further questions or
know of a child between the ages of 3 and 18 with a life threatening illness
who might like to be granted a wish.
The only things we require from the family is a diagnosis and prognosis
from the child's doctor. Upon approval from Dr. Dan Lafluer (the doctor who
reviews all of Wish I Could's cases) the board will then vote on granting the
wish and members will conduct an interview with the child to determine "the
To date, no child with a life threatening illness has ever been turned
down. It is our great pleasure to provide children, in the face of these
difficult struggles, a reason to smile. We would like to thank you for your
interest in Wish I Could of NELA Inc. and God Bless.
Children's Wish applications are available by clicking this link