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Actress Vanessa Bayer Reflects on Her Wish 20 Years Later

Vanessa Bayer
When actress and comedian Vanessa Bayer meets wish kids, she has more in common with them than they might realize. Vanessa battled leukemia as a teenager, and in 1999, she, too, had a life-changing wish granted. Now, she’s written a children’s book with advice for kids and their families about how to support a friend with a critical illness. Vanessa talks with Make-A-Wish® America about how her wish still has an impact on her 20 years later.

Q. Before your wish was granted, what was your life like? How did your illness affect you and your family?

A. Before my wish was granted, I had to spend a lot of time in and out of hospitals. While my family was very supportive and wonderful, that whole experience was very exhausting and emotionally taxing for me and for them. 

Vanessa Bayer on her wish

Vanessa on her wish trip in Hawaii.

Q. And then came your wish. Tell us about that experience. How did Make-A-Wish impact your life?

A. For my wish I got to go to Hawaii with my family! We saw beautiful sights and got to go snorkeling, ride on a submarine, and eat at amazing restaurants. My wish reminded me how much beauty and possibility there is in the world, and to dream big.

Q. Do you look back and see anything new you learned about yourself thanks to your wish coming true?

A. I think I learned that nothing feels more healing to me than carefree time with family, especially when it’s on a beautiful island!

Q. What would you say to a child with a critical illness today who is waiting for his or her wish to come true?

A. I would say the anticipation is worth it. And that I hope the excitement and joy of the wish continues to drive them even once their wish experience has ended. Sometimes it is easy to forget that there is a lot out there to be excited about!

Vanessa Bayer's new book

Q. And now you’ve published a book with advice for supporting a friend with a critical illness. Can you share more about your inspiration and what the process of writing it was like? What do you hope children and families will get out of this book?

A. I wrote my new children's book, “How Do You Care For A Very Sick Bear?”, because I think it can be scary and confusing to have a friend who is sick, and oftentimes it might seem hard to know what to do to help your friend. I hope readers learn from this book that the best thing to do for a friend who is diagnosed with a critical illness is to reach out and support them. They are still the same friend who loves to laugh and talk and dream with you.


When a wish is granted, a child with a critical illness replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. Give now to help grant a child's most heartfelt wish!

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Wish Nation gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Make-A-Wish®. See how wishes come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish. And learn why we are so committed to someday granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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