The Impact of Granting Wishes

Granting a wish for a local nonprofit organization can be easy, especially through the Community Foundation of Macon County’s (CFMC) Wish List. Requested items on the list range from $25 for flip score boards for Special Olympics Illinois, to $850,000 for an elevator at the African-American Cultural & Genealogical Museum. At CFMC, we are thankful that Macon County donors have granted more than $350,000 in wishes in just the past two years!

To grant a wish, simply click on an organization’s wish – or wishes – that inspire you to give and fund their request. You’ll find the complete list on our website at

In my job as CFMC president, I regularly review our wish list, looking at new requests and checking on granted wishes. As I found out from personal experience, funding a wish is often just the start of a beautiful journey to the extraordinary.

Last summer, I was reading our wish list and a new request from Millikin University caught my attention – $643 to purchase cancerous thyroid cells for a research study.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. I had two surgeries to remove my entire thyroid followed by radioactive iodine therapy. Prior to my diagnosis, I had never given much thought to my thyroid. But amid all the testing, I learned just how important it is. This butterfly-shaped gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate almost every function in the body, such as metabolism, heartbeat, temperature and other important processes. The thyroid affects nearly every cell in the body.

Following my surgeries, I now take daily doses of levothyroxine, a thyroid replacement hormone. I continue to struggle with weight gain and low energy. I also have blood work done every three months to check how the levothyroxine is being synthesized in my body.

The wish request asked for funding for a Millikin University research study on the possibility of treating thyroid cancer without surgical removal of the entire thyroid. Immediately, I knew I had to fund the wish myself.

After granting the wish, I was invited to meet with the requestor, Millikin’s Dr. Jennifer Schroeder, Professor and Director, School of Biological and Environmental Studies. Dr. Schroeder’s research interests span all areas of cancer, endocrinology and reproductive biology. Her teaching laboratory is located at Leighty-Tabor Science Center, an 83,000-square-foot building located on the north side of Millikin’s campus.

Dr. Schroeder’s enthusiasm for working with students is inspiring. She provides her students with hands-on experience and encourages them to share their findings in medical journals. The funding I provided was used for a study to review the effects of punicalagin, an anti-oxidant derived from pomegranates, to induce apoptosis (cell death) and autophagy (destruction of damaged or redundant cell components) in papillary thyroid carcinoma; in other words, a possible way to remove the cancer without surgery. The study is being conducted by a student in Dr. Schroeder’s program who brings a special perspective to the project. For you see, the student leading the research is also being treated for thyroid cancer.

I granted a funding wish to help a student conduct cancer research in a lab at Millikin University that I hope will lead to finding a cancer cure. Truly, that would be a wish granted for all of us.

What wish would you like to grant?

Inside Dr. Schroeder's lab

Getting an up close view of cancer cells in Dr. Schroeder's lab at Millikin University.