Meet Ryan Giacolone, President of The Rainbow Connection’s Executive Board

Years ago, a colleague brought Ryan Giacolone to the Dobson Open golf outing for the first time. Soon after he learned about how The Rainbow Connection helped Michigan children, Ryan knew he had found a mission he believed in. A father of four himself, Ryan understands the importance of family.

“Children are my passion.  My kids are my passion. So I found an organization that serves other children and it really struck home for me.  One of the most important things when you serve is that you’ve got to find a mission you believe in, or else you’re never going to be committed to it,” Ryan said.

In addition to volunteering for many years, Ryan has served on the Finance committee, as Vice President, and currently serves as President of the Executive Board.

Ryan’s enduring passion for football inspired him to sponsor a wish for another dedicated fan. Austin’s wish was to come face-to-face with the Seattle Seahawks players, and Ryan excitedly stepped up to sponsor the trip. After Austin returned, Ryan received a photo of Austin in the locker room, beaming with pride, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with NFL star, Russell Wilson. This photo serves as a reminder to Ryan that he helped to put a smile on Austin’s face, and the faces of his family members, during a very challenging time.

“When a child is fighting a life-threatening illness, the struggle extends far beyond the child to the family, siblings, and parents,” Ryan said.  He feels that the Wish experience is truly a whole-family experience.  “That’s what really means a lot to me.  It’s not just that child [who experiences delight, but rather] the whole family experiences relief for a period of time, and they just get to enjoy some happiness.”


Rainbow Connection grants wishes to thousands of children in Michigan with life threatening illnesses

The Arab American News – Posted Thursday, July 7th 2019 by Hassan Abbas

Rochester – Since its inception in 1985, Rochester based charity organization Rainbow Connection has made wishes come true for thousands of children with life threatening medical conditions in Michigan.

The charity began when Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson organized a memorial golf outing to raise scholarship funds in honor of victims of a tragic plane crash.

The organization has since ballooned out into a state-wide charity that grants wishes to between 150 and 160 children a year…

Click here to read more!

TRC’s Brand New Wish Wall

The Rainbow Connection Office is so excited to unveil our brand new wish wall! It features all of the brave wish children who we have granted wishes for this year, or who will receive their wishes in the future! Jackson Architectural Metals created and donated the newly renovated wall to our TRC office.

On the right hand side, every child who has received a wish since January 2019 is pictured.

At the beginning of February, 5 year old Hendrick’s wish finally came true after a long journey with Leukemia. Hendrick had been patiently waiting to meet Mickey Mouse and see the magic that all of the Orlando theme parks had to offer – his dream came true last month! He and his parents stayed at the exclusive Give Kids The World resort and created some once in a lifetime memories together! Hendrick’s favorite part of his wish trip was the Curious George Fun Center at Universal Studios. As you can see from the joy on his face, it was an incredible trip!

The left side of the Wish Wall features all the children that have been referred to TRC but haven’t received their wish yet. If there is a star next to their picture, like 15 year old Brandon’s, the wish is booked and ready to happen! Brandon is from Saginaw and was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphona. He wishes to travel to Atlantis with his family. Nancy, his Wish Coordinator, has his trip booked for the beginning of June!

TRC does not have a waiting list – so when a child is ready for their wish, our Wish Department is ready to make it happen. Sometimes wish children are waiting because they are going through treatment or because they want their wish to coincide with a special event – like their birthday! Jada’s wish is to celebrate her 13th birthday with her family in Disney World!

At The Rainbow Connection, our focus is on these wish children and their families, each child’s special wish and our ability to make them come true. Once-in-a-lifetime wishes give children the ability to dream the impossible! Since we began this mission, no child in need of a wish has ever been turned away or made to wait. Our wish is to provide hope, memories, laughter and something to look forward to for our wish children.

To learn more about our mission, services and how you can get involved with TRC, visit one of our FREE “Get Rainbow Connected” monthly tours! The next tour is Tuesday, April 16th at 9:00 am. Click here to sign-up

‘Penny wars’ fulfill student’s dream – The County Press

On Thursday, with the help from his Bishop Kelley Catholic School peers and teachers, Eli delivered a check to an organization that, during the most difficult point in his young life, offered him a week of much-needed respite.

Read more here!

Local girl, 4, battling leukemia gets her ‘Wish’ – C&G Newspapers

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 18, 2019

The Rainbow Connection announced two milestones earlier this month.

The first is that Elliana Moore, of Macomb Township, who goes by Ellie, became the 3,500th The Rainbow Connection Wish Child. Second, Ellie’s wish to visit Disney World is being sponsored by former wish recipient and 15-year cancer survivor Nadine Bazzi.

Read more here!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Rob Bava raised his bidder paddle high as a surprise to his wife when the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” package hit the auction block at the 2018 Dream Makers Ball. This phenomenal item, donated by the Somerset Collection Tiffany and Company and Lavdas Limousine, included a private breakfast and shopping experience for five lucky individuals.

“I knew right away I wanted it to be a gift to my wife and three daughters,” shares Rob just before he raised a glass toasting his beautiful family.

Thanks to Lavdas, the Bava family arrived to the event in a limousine.  Breakfast was served in the center of the Tiffany & Company store. Plum Market catered the breakfast and served the same menu as the Blue Box Café in New York. The guests even got to select a piece of jewelry to wear while they dined!

Following breakfast, Rob and his family had a private shopping experience. The ladies tried on every jewel that caught their eye and spent the morning draped in diamonds! As they were preparing to leave, the Tiffany staff surprised the family with individual gifts from the new Tiffany & Company china line.

Thanks to Tiffany and Company, Plum Market and Lavdas Limousine the Bava family created memories they will cherish for a lifetime.

Don’t miss out on amazing items like this!  Tickets are on sale NOW for the 2019 Dream Makers Ball, May 11 at MGM Grand Detroit. 


5th Annual Clash for a Cause raises over $16,000 to Grant Wishes

The 5th Annual Clash for Cause was a huge success, raising over $16,000 to grant wishes!

The Rainbow Connection was blown away by the generosity of the Lakeland Eagles and Walled Lake Northern Hockey communities.

Former wish recipient, Blake Jackson spearheaded the fundraising tournament and played for the Lakeland hockey team. At the end of the game, each player presented his jersey to a loved one at center ice. TRC is grateful for the dedication of former wish recipients who continue to stay connected with the mission by fundraising and volunteering.

With a silent auction, 50/50 raffle and matching gift from Pepsi, this event will have a big impact for TRC in granting wishes for Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions.

Read more about the event and Blake’s story here.

3,500 Wish Donated by Former Wish Recipient

The Rainbow Connection announces two milestones this week!  First, Elliana (Ellie) will become the 3,500th Rainbow Connection Wish Child to receive a wish. Second, Ellie’s wish is being sponsored by former wish recipient and 15-year cancer survivor Nadine Bazzi who went on her Rainbow Connection Wish trip to Disney World with her family in 2002.

Ellie is currently receiving treatment for Leukemia. Her wish is to go to Disney World to “meet the princesses, go on all of the rides, and eat lots of ice cream!” Nadine, the sponsor of Ellie’s wish, decided to pursue her dream of giving back to those who helped her along her cancer journey. She started a Go Fund Me page with a goal of raising $5,000 to sponsor the wish of another child. Not only did Nadine meet her fundraising goal, but she doubled it. TRC  is grateful to so many Wish Children who, as they get older, stay connected with the mission and give back through fundraising and volunteering.

“The magic continues at The Rainbow Connection”, Wish Director Ingrid Todt said.  “We are so proud of Nadine, her accomplishments and her dedication in making Ellie’s wish come true!”

Wish Child Nadine Surpasses $5,000 Fundraising Goal and Grants Two Wishes!

We are grateful to so many of our wish children who, as they get older, look to support our mission through fundraising and/or volunteering. Nadine is a 15-year cancer survivor who went on her wish trip to Disney with her family in 2002.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Nadine and today marks my 15-year anniversary as a Cancer Survivor. This milestone in my life has inspired me to share my story and my wish with you.

When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. After I was diagnosed, I began treatment which lasted about two years. During this span, I lost a lot of my hair, and taking medications was a daily routine for me. My life changed and my family’s lives changed as well. This bump in the road shaped me into the person I am today, and the hardships I endured has given me a new perspective on life. Being a cancer survivor has played a huge role in helping me figure out my purpose in life.  My past has helped me realize what is important and it has helped me understand just how precious life is. It taught me that no matter what, you should always be grateful for the little things you have because your life can change in a second.

I have been inspired by so many doctors and nurses over the last fifteen years and in a couple years I will be able to work alongside all the amazing people who have always cared for me.  After my treatment with chemotherapy, my family was approached by an organization called The Rainbow Connection (TRC). This organization offers children with life threatening medical conditions the opportunity to make a wish. I was granted a wish and I chose to take a trip to Disney World with my family.

TRC did everything in their power to make sure our trip was perfect. From the limo ride to the airport, to our flight and hotel, TRC made me feel like a little princess and forget about all the bad that was going on in my life. Going on this trip made me forget about the cancer. It made me forget about the nurses, the doctors, the needles, the shots, and my hair loss.  I forgot about all the bad stuff and I got to be a kid. This opportunity enlightened the situation I was in and looking back, it made me realize that there truly is good in every bad situation. I don’t think I would be who I am today without this hardship and I thank god every day for everything I have been blessed with. TRC made my wish come true and the memories I made because of them are irreplaceable.

At the end of 2018, Nadine decided to pursue her dream of giving back to those who helped her along her cancer journey. She started a Go Fund Me page with a goal of raising $5,000 to sponsor the wish of another child. We are thrilled to report that Nadine not only met her goal, but surpassed it by double! With Nadine’s help, TRC will be able to grant the wishes of two Michigan children battling a life-threatening medical condition!

Thank you, Nadine, for your dedication and passion to give back to others in such a meaningful way.

TRC Receives Seventh Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

The Rainbow Connection has received a 4-star rating for the seventh consecutive year from Charity Navigator, an honor only 5% of charities receive. Charity Navigator is the largest independent charity evaluator and assesses non-profits by their fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency.

After Charity Navigator’s review, TRC earned 96 points out of 100 overall; 97.50 for financial management and 96 for accountability and transparency. As the non-profit marketplace becomes more competitive, there is an increased demand from donors for greater accountability and quantifiable results from the charities they choose to support.

The generous support donors provide TRC is invaluable. 86% of every dollar goes toward wish program expenses and in 2019, ensuring that these dollars continue to be allocated in a responsible way is of the upmost importance to TRC staff and Board of Directors.

Check out our Charity Navigator profile to learn more: