Santa letters raise money for charity
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
December 10, 2010 12:00 AM | 3303 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ashley Wagner delivers letters for Santa at Town Center mall, with help from Macy’s associate Dana Young. Ashley, who once endured a brain tumor, is a former Make-A-Wish recipient and is now an ambassador for the foundation.
Ashley Wagner delivers letters for Santa at Town Center mall, with help from Macy’s associate Dana Young. Ashley, who once endured a brain tumor, is a former Make-A-Wish recipient and is now an ambassador for the foundation.
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KENNESAW - At just 12 years old, Ashley Wagner of Kennesaw has had two bouts with brain cancer. But the McClure Middle School student has survived and is on a mission to spread holiday cheer to other children battling illness.

Ashley serves as an ambassador of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the charity which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. As such, for three years she has partnered with Macy's letter-writing "Believe Campaign" to raise funds for the foundation.

For each stamped letter addressed to Santa it receives through Christmas Eve in letterboxes at any of its stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to help grant children's wishes. And today, National Believe Day, Macy's will donate $2 for every letter it receives.

Every year, Ashley rallies her family, friends and school to produce as many letters as possible. She has personally helped raise an estimated $14,000 over the years for the campaign, which equals two wishes granted.

"I got my wish in April 2006, it was to meet country singer Joe Nichols," said Ashley, who dreams of becoming a country music artist one day.

"The Make-A-Wish Foundation went over and beyond my wish. I talk about it like it was yesterday. It gave me and my family a chance to get away from everything and not have to deal with all the sickness and that stuff."

In November 2004, then 6-year-old Ashley was first diagnosed with a life-threatening, 1.5-inch tumor in her brain, after her parents Rina and Richard Wagner, noticed she had headaches and vision problems. Less than two years after surgery to remove it, the benign tumor returned.

After rounds of radiation treatment and surgery, Ashley has now been declared tumor-free since 2006. Inspired by her own Make-A-Wish experience that allowed her to meet her favorite musician, Ashley has been committed to making the dreams of other children in similar circumstances come true.

"God has blessed her with a such a wonderful personality," her mother said. "She just has a very positive attitude."

There are several drop-off boxes for letters at McClure Middle School, where students have been busy writing letters on behalf of their schoolmate for Macy's Believe Campaign, said Principal Susan Wing.

"Ashley is a go-getter," Wing said. "She's very passionate about Make-A-Wish and certainly has been involved with them for quite a while. I would say Ashley does a great job inspiring our students and staff."

Shandy Arwood of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia & Alabama said anyone can help support the Make-A-Wish Foundation by either writing a letter or making a donation.

"It's an easy way to raise money," Ashley said. "All you have to do is write a letter."
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Michaela A
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November 11, 2012
I met her one day and it was a blessing. I am a year younger than Ashley and live in her neighborhood. And she has impacted my life forever. Thank you Ashley!

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