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Traci Walton

Wish-Granter Brings Magic to Life for Wish Kids

Shortly after Traci Walton started granting wishes for Make-A-Wish® Atlanta, she learned first-hand what every wish kid experiences: the anxiety when a doctor delivers the diagnosis, the seemingly endless treatments, the uncertainty.

Traci WaltonFacing her own illness helped her realize how important it is to share the power of a wish®. “That really solidified my commitment,” says Walton, who was completely cured from her cancer in 1996. Even as she was going through chemotherapy, she kept granting wishes. Walton, who moved to Oklahoma in 1997, has granted wishes for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma since then and is also a board member. She usually has five wishes in the works in addition to her board responsibilities.

Walton, 40, is the Inspector Gadget of whimsical wishware: She has capes, a pair of fairy outfits, magic wands and more. Her signature wish-granting tool is a magic lamp. She has wish kids rub the lamp to discover their true wish — yes, even the teenagers. Walton, a mother of four, is convinced that even the most aloof teen has a childlike nature that’s looking for an excuse to get out.

“I don’t think you’re ever too old for it,” she says. “It’s all about having fun.”

Walton knows the milestones that matter most to kids. That’s why prom wishes are among her favorites. She recently organized a post-prom luau party for wish kid Jade and her closest friends. The party was her way of thanking the supportive friends who helped keep her spirits up during her medical treatments.

Walton marks the day she started granting wishes as a milestone in her life. She attended a friend’s party, where she met a parent whose daughter had received a Disney wish from the Foundation.

“I was just awestruck by the description of the wish,” Walton says.

The encounter happened at the perfect time: Walton had time to devote to a cause, and hearing the wish parent’s praise made Make-A-Wish her ideal choice.

Walton doesn’t count the hours she volunteers — she says it’s just a regular part of her life — but she’s usually pounding away at her keyboard and sending emails after her children are asleep. There’s always another sponsor to find, another wish to grant or an event to plan.

Every time she throws on her cloak and grabs her magic lantern, Walton feels what a wish means to those she encounters.

“You only get one chance to do it, and to do it right,” she says. “And it’s more than the child — it’s the entire family, the volunteers and the community.”

Having overcome her own illness, Walton knows what it’s like to see that magic happen.