9 Things You Might Not Know About The Rainbow Connection

Zac and Mickey

The Rainbow Connection (TRC) has been making dreams come true for Michigan children with life threatening illnesses since 1985.

Check out these 9 facts you might not know about TRC and the magic of making a dream come true.


 1.) It’s more than a wish. In addition to making dreams come true, TRC provides an umbrella of support services for all families served. People forget that when a child becomes seriously ill, life is suddenly turned upside down for all family members. The Special Response and Enhancement Program provide families with support and fun activities as they continue to experience hardships. College Scholarships are available for wish kids who go to college too!

2.) We grant wishes throughout the state of Michigan. TRC provides services to children throughout the 83 counties in the state of Michigan. In 2016, 39% of wishes were granted for Wayne County children, but wish families come from Traverse City, Marquette and cities all over Michigan

3.) The Rainbow Connection does not make a child wait. When the child is ready for their wish and their physician has given their approval, TRC is ready to make it happen. Our Wish Coordinators work hard to maintain the quality of care and service while we maintain our no wait policy

4.Wish Kids receive surprise Happy Packs in the mail! Whether a child is going through a tough time in treatment, or just needs a pick me up, TRC sends a Happy Pack in the mail to cheer the child up. The surprise packages include coloring books, nail polish, card games and more!

5.) The first wish was to meet Muhammed Ali on July 24th, 1985. 16 year old John Bowden wished to meet heavy weight champion Muhammed Ali. He came to visit John at Children’s Hospital in Detroit and while the visit was set up specifically to meet John, Ali stayed to visit many sick kids throughout the hospital. The gesture by Ali brought joy to John during a difficult time and the impact remains with his family to this day.

6.) Wish Kids love to give back to other Wish Kids. Many of our wish kids raise funds to support other wish families. 11 year old wish child Natalie, created Team Natalie Go Fight Win, a team dedicated to Walk for Kids and raising money for The Rainbow Connection. In 2017, her team raised $10,000 to make dreams come true.

7.) We grant all kinds of wishes! Since 1985, over 3,309 wishes have been granted to Michigan children. In 2016, we granted 79 trips to Disney World, 31 shopping sprees and 6 meet and greets with celebrities just to name a few.

8.) When a wish is received, the wish child and their family are joining The Rainbow Connection Family for life! With our Holiday Party, Summer Picnic and year round Enhancements, we love to visit with wish families throughout the year. 14 year old Autumn, received her wish to meet Kenny Chesney in 2009. 8 years later, Autumn and family still attend TRC events and share the impact of her wish

9.) Hundreds of TRC supporters and volunteers make wish granting possible. The average cost of a family’s wish is $6,500. We have over 600 volunteers that work throughout the year in the office and at fundraising events. Community groups, corporations and schools put on benefits to raise funds for Michigan children. With wish referrals increasing by 34% over the past three years, this support is crucial to continuing our mission of making dreams come true.

Follow us on Facebook for even more wish stories at www.facebook.com/rainbowconnectionmichigan. For more information on events and volunteer opportunities visit www.rainbowconnection.org


Justin’s Wish makes a “Giant” Impact

Make a wish

Wish Child Justin reflects on his wish to meet the San Francisco Giants and his journey since his diagnosis.

 Each summer, my family and I take a trip to a different baseball stadium. So when I was approached by the social worker at my clinic and she said The Rainbow Connection would grant my wish, I immediately thought of the team whose hat is on my head 100% of the time: the San Francisco Giants.

Getting to meet the San Francisco Giants was a once in a lifetime experience and a memory that I will never forget. The whole trip was so exciting just to be out in California and see all the sights there. Not only did I get to do and see amazing things around the city such as the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, and a cable car ride, but I got to see two different ballparks when we went to an Oakland A’s game in addition to a Giants game. The Giants organization gave me a tour of the stadium, let me stand on the field for batting practice, and gave me an opportunity to meet and spend time with four Giants players which was the best part of the whole trip! It was a very pleasant surprise that all the players mentioned they were expecting me and held conversations with my family and I before the game.

I cannot thank The Rainbow Connection and Giants organization enough for sending me out to California which lead to me spending an amazing week with my family. I was surprised by how even the smallest detail was taken into account and I am forever grateful for The Rainbow Connection and those individuals that planned this amazing trip for me.

Cancer makes you appreciate the small things. The small encounters with friends, the thought and time people put into things, and people going out of their way to do something nice for you. Before my diagnosis, I valued things a lot differently. I was more materialistic and always wanted what was in style regardless of if it was useful.

Now, I appreciate the small things that I hadn’t even noticed before this journey. There was a day where my family surprised me with t-shirts reading “Spartan Strong” on the front and “Justin Strong” on the back. The amount of hope I felt as my whole family came into my hospital room wearing those shirts and chanting my name was unreal. Almost everyone associates cancer with darkness. However, if there is one thing that my journey with cancer has taught me, it’s that sometimes the worst case scenario can actually bring out the best in life.

Rainbow Connection Awarded 2016 Charity Navigator Award

To view the 2016 Award click on the link below.

Charity Navigator Award LTR 2016

Boxing great Muhammad Ali’s visit to local teenager marked beginning of wishes for Michigan kids

Muhammad Ali reading to child

June 2016

Rochester, Mich. (WXYZ) – Funeral services for boxing great Muhammad Ali are set for this week in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky but the former heavyweight champion also had strong ties to the state of Michigan.

Ali lived in Berrien Springs in southwest Michigan for nearly two decades. He also had a historical tie to the Rainbow Connection, a Rochester-based non-profit that grants wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses.

On July 26, 1985, Ali made a special visit to 16-year old John Bowden at Children’s Hospital in Detroit.

“Muhammad Ali made the very first wish come true for the Rainbow Connection,” said Mary Grace McCarter, the organization’s executive director.  “You can’t get anymore significant than that.”

While the former boxing champion’s visit was set up specifically for John, it did not surprise McCarter that Ali spent time with other children receiving treatment on the floor that day.

“He really showed the magic of making a dream come true,” said McCarter of Ali’s visit.  “Not just that day for John Bowden but for us to know to keep forging ahead, that making a dream come true for a child who’s so sick is a deal changer for everybody.”

Since that very first wish, Rainbow Connection has granted 3,113 others, including 162 in 2015. The wish board in the Rainbow Connection office displays photos of dozens of other children who will see their dream come true in the months ahead.

“Kids wish to go somewhere or to get something or to meet someone, like Muhammad Ali, to meet someone famous that they would never, ever otherwise meet,” she said.

The gesture by Ali brought some joy to the 16-year old during a most difficult time. John died a few days later but the memory of the visit and its impact on the teen remains with his family members to this day.

Wish Come True: Meet the youngest Michigan State Police Trooper



July 2016

DIMONDALE, Mich (WLNS) – It’s not just a good day for 5-year-old Aidyn Sharrow.

It’s a life-changing day.

The little guy is the newest honorary Michigan State Police trooper and it’s all thanks to The Rainbow Connection.

Aidyn is currently fighting leukemia and it was his wish to join the men and women in blue.

Aidyn and his family are spending the whole day with troopers, getting to see the canine units up close in action and even riding in a MSP helicopter.

For troopers involved in Aidyn’s special day it’s means the world to see a smile on his face.

“Here’s an opportunity for us to bring some happiness to a young man’s life and to his family and to let the public know that their Michigan State Police are out to protect them and to serve them with a true purpose,” said MSP First Lt. Troy Allen.

The “Rainbow Connection”, which granted Aidyn’s wish, helps make dreams come true for Michigan children dealing with life-threatening conditions.

Celebration of Dreams 2016

Logan’s Dream Come True

Natalie’s Dream Come True

Fall 2016 Newsletter

2016-image2016 Fall Newsletter

Trent and the Tigers

Trent & Fam

Drying AutographsTrent is 10 years old and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was just 2 years old. Although his diagnosis is a daily struggle Trent has managed to play baseball for as far back as he can remember.  He just loves the game and is a huge Detroit Tigers fan.  Trent’s dream was to go to a Tigers game and meet Miguel Cabrera!

On the big day the limo came to Trent’s house in Jackson and drove him, his Dad and his grandpa to Comerica Park.  Trent was so excited!

He watched the team practice and met many players and then Miguel Cabrera came out to Trent and gave Trent his batting gloves and shook Trent’s hand.  Trent was so moved he started to cry.  Miggy said “Hey, dry those tears.  We are hoping you will throw out the first pitch!”

Trent looked at Miggy and then to his Dad and said “This is the best day of my life.”