Friday, April 18, 2014

One hockey game fulfills a life-long wish

For kids with serious diseases and their families, life often seems to revolve around hospital stays, medications, doctor visits, treatments and pain.  The challenges, restrictions and emotional toll of daily life with serious disease often pushes many of the joyful things in life off to the side, from playing basketball with friends after school to family vacations.

The nonprofit organization Make-A-Wish works hard to help sick kids and their families forget about the disease for a little while to experience their dreams. The compassion that Make-A-Wish shows for these children and their families led UnitedHealthcare to partner with Make-A-Wish back in 2007.  Since then, we’ve helped make the wishes come true of more than 600 children.  In addition to funding wishes, our employees regularly volunteer their time to help make the wishes happen.

Recently, we had the chance to help fulfill the wish of a young teen in the Pittsburgh area suffering from a rare type of bladder cancer. Riley’s wish was to attend a hockey game in which the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Philadelphia Flyers. 

UnitedHealthcare planned a party for Riley on Friday, April 11 to celebrate both his wish fulfillment and his 14th birthday.  Riley, his family and two best friends were picked up by a limo and whisked off to our offices in Forest Hills near Pittsburgh where 80 UnitedHealthcare workers were waiting to yell, “Surprise!”  Riley received an authentic Pens jersey with the name of his favorite player on the back, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a DVD of his favorite show, Duck Dynasty, and other gifts while we all enjoyed ice cream cake.

On Saturday, Riley and his friends and family attended the Penguins vs. Flyers game, and enjoyed dinner and an overnight stay in downtown Pittsburgh.

At UnitedHealthcare, we know that access to high-quality medical care is the number one priority for kids like Riley, and we work hard every day to help people get the care they need.  But our mission to help people live healthier lives extends beyond access to quality, affordable healthcare.  We believe that a few smiles along the way can help kids like Riley find the emotional strength they need along their journey.

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