Walk for Wishes raises money to help children with critical illnesses

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MOLINE, III (KWQC) -- Each year in Illinois around 12, 00 children are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, but hope becomes medicine for many families. Thanks to the Make- A- Wish foundation.

This Saturday, community members have a chance to make a difference by participating in one of the many walks held throughout the country.

Make-A-Wish Illinois says a wish experience can truly change a child's life. This year alone, more than 700 wishes will be granted.

10-year-old Illiana Granja knows that feeling. The fourth-grader at Longfellow Elementary loves to color after school. Her pictures like her personality are bright.

“A lot of kids in my class like black and I don't because it's not my color,” said Illiana Granja as she colors.

After school, she and her mother pick up her little brother, who she loves to make laugh. Looking at her you wouldn't know.

They (doctors) told me that I had NK/T-cell lymphomas. I was like what is that, and they told me its cancer and I was like, I cannot have that,” said Granja.

Going through treatment was not easy.

“I was really scared because I thought something would happen to me in the hospital, but nothing did,” said Granja.

Even through that, her mother Rosie Guzman says she's never lost her smile.

“I haven't looked at these pictures in a while,” said Rosie Guzman, as she goes through her daughter’s journal.

Pictures of Illiana’s journey are captured. From the struggles to the good times, like when the family was given a chance to visit Hawaii through Make-A-Wish Illinois.

“I was so excited because I wanted to swim,” said Granja.

Guzman says the foundation does more than grant a wish.

“We wouldn't have been able to afford a family trip like that and Make-A-Wish just brings back their imagination, brings back their childhood,” said Guzman.

Last year, Illiana led the organizations Walk for Wishes fundraiser held at the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley. The one-mile walk will be held at the same place this year again and she hopes to raise more awareness about the work the organization does.

“I want to make wishes for a whole bunch of other kids. So they can be happy and go on trips with their family,” said Granja.

“Having gone through cancer it never changed her. She sees it as I want to give back any way that I can,” said Guzman.

As bright as her crayons, Illiana is determined to keep fighting.

“I still shine even after all the storms I have been through,” said Granja.

Illiana is cancer free and currently in remission. Her annual checkup is set for June. Illiana says her goal is to become a doctor to help other children that are going through what she is. Registration for the walk is at 8:00 a.m. and the event starts at 8:45 a.m. Fees for adult walkers is $20, youth walker, $10. For more information visit: https://secure2.wish.org/site/TR?fr_id=3183&pg=entry