Starring Ashlen

Starring Ashlen

wish_AshlenAshlen is 16 years old and suffers from spina bifida, an opening in the spinal column at birth. Although surgery closed the opening, Ashlen deals with other complications including the need for braces to walk short distances and a wheelchair when a lot of walking is required. Despite health challenges, she has a ready smile and enthusiasm for life.

Ashlen’s wish was to be professionally recorded and make a CD of her own renditions of her favorite music. She wrote a letter to New Hope for Kids requesting a wish and sharing from her heart.

The Linsenmayer Family

My name is Carol Linsenmayer. My 9 year old daughter, Danielle, and I attended New Hope for Kids Center for Grieving Children after the death of my husband, her dad, in 2006. Paul always had a caring and giving heart. He was also the greatest “Mr. Mom”. For those of us that were left behind, going through this transition became heart wrenching. New Hope for Kids got us through those troubled times.

Imagine parenting while grieving. Many are ignorant of what happens when our world changes. Dealing with a loss is so very hard for the parent, because you are quietly trying to get through the pain and heartbreak yourself while struggling to stay strong and whole for your children.

The Doty Family

Romeo and I met when I worked as an engineer and he as a Vice President with a major aerospace firm. He became my mentor, my friend and later my husband and the father of our children. When we were expecting our son, I told him I wanted to name him, Romeo III. He objected. I told him if our son grew up to be half the man that he and his father were; he would be wonderful, since I considered both of them to be exceptional men.

He was an amazing man and husband but he was a phenomenal father. He attended our kids school events which in and of itself was amazing. He helped run a multi billion dollar organization but knew at the end of the day his kids would remember looking out into the audience and seeing him.

The Moor Family

On February 14, 2000, Valentine’s Day, I was out on a romantic dinner with my husband. On our way home we were in a car accident in downtown Orlando. Chad, my husband, had forgotten to put his seatbelt on and was thrown from the vehicle. He died 12 hours later from severe head trauma.

My seemingly perfect life came tumbling down. I was depressed, lost, scared and unsure what or where to go next. I was referred to New Hope for Kids by the minister who officiated Chad’s memorial service. I didn’t want to come to New Hope for Kids, I didn’t want to admit it was all so real and this was how my life was going to be now. So I went there for my children!!

At first I couldn’t talk out loud about what I was going through, but soon I realized I was in a room full of people who had all the same fears and confusing thoughts I did……..I felt like I belonged somewhere finally, a place where people understood what I was going through.

Wish Application

Children’s Wish Application

Dear Parent,

New Hope for Kids grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses who have not yet reached their 19th birthday nor had a wish granted previously. This does NOT necessarily mean that the child is currently terminally ill. A life-threatening illness is defined by NHFK as any illness which will in all likelihood shorten the child’s full life expectancy. Often chronic illness leaves little time or finances to accommodate a special wish, which could add something positive and encouraging to a child’s life. New Hope for Kids offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make that wish come true!

We realize that a life-threatening illness causes serious emotional and financial strain on the entire family. While we are not able to cure your child’s illness, we would like to brighten his/her life by making possible something he/she would like very much to have or do. It is important to us that the wish is the child’s wish, not something whose idea came from a parent or brother or sister. If a child’s wish is for a trip or to visit someplace, we attempt to include the immediate family in the granting of the wish. We hope also that by granting the child’s wish we bring respite to the entire family. If a child is non-verbal, we look to the parents for guidance to determine the wish that would be in the best interest of their child.

If you have a child who would like New Hope for Kids to consider granting a wish, please complete the attached forms accompanied with the medical acknowledgment verifying that your child has a life-threatening and is medically cleared to receive the requested wish. It is crucial for the forms to be filled out completely including witness signatures and dates. Families are notified upon approval. After approval, a visit will be arranged between parent(s), child and the New Hope for Kids Wish Program Director. After the visit, there is normally a period of six to eight weeks before the wish is granted. New Hope for Kids’ goal is to grant 100% of all wish requests of children meeting established criteria. New Hope for Kids reserves the right, however, to refuse a wish if the physician feels it is not in the best interest of the child or if the wish is beyond the scope of New Hope for Kids Wish abilities.


Rosie Wilder
Wish Program Director

Wish Stories

Chandler and His Amazing Bike

Chandler is having a great time on his amazing bike. At 14 kids want to become more independent. Because of cerebral palsy and seizures, that is a difficult thing for Chandler to do. So, his dream was to have a full sized quad bike to replace the small bike he had outgrown. His mother Michelle shared, “Sometimes, for Chandler to enjoy the same activities that everyone else does, it takes an expensive piece of equipment. Insurance and Medicaid often don’t pay for these items as they are deemed ‘not medically necessary.’” This is where New Hope’s Wishes for Kids program stepped in to say, “Chandler, a special needs bike is “wish-worthy” and we can fulfill your dream.

To make Chandler’s wish even more exciting, the UCF Dream Team “adopted” him and raised nearly $3,000 cash to pay for the bike. David’s World Cycle’s expert Edgardo Negron built the bike with a special supportive seat, handlebars and controls, so the entire family can ride together. It’s two tandem bikes made into a quad bike. When the Dream Team held a fun party for Chandler, they also gave him a bike horn and attire fit for a biker! To learn more about Chandler, go to

Team Wishing Well Does Well

Rafael is 17 and has Down syndrome. He’s full of enthusiasm and didn’t hesitate to share that he really wanted an above-ground pool more than anything in the world. He loves to be outside and a pool is the perfect place to be on a hot summer’s day. Recreational Factory Warehouse Altamonte Springs donated a variety of pool toys. The Orlando Science Center added to the fun by giving Rafael and his family a membership worth $250. UCF Team Wishing Well held a pool party for Rafael and his friends. You can share his joy as you view this youtube link. It includes Team Wishing Well’s plans and party for Rafael.

Zion’s Trip to the Village

At 5, Zion is the perfect age to go to Give Kids the World Village. He’s holding Mickey Mouse in the picture to the left. Though spina bifida has caused its limitations, there is no limit on the fun he had at the village and Disney World! Activities were non-stop, and after a day at the theme parks, the pool and specially adapted water park at the village cooled everyone off.

Team Hopetastic added to Zion’s anticipation by giving him a unique brunch with a Scavenger Hunt. The young guests found clues that led them to special prizes. When Zion found his, it was a basket full of gifts including 8 tickets to see SpongeBob Square pants’ show at Nickelodeon Orlando.

Meet Kacie

At 7 years old, Kacie is confined to a wheelchair unable to run and play like other girls her age. She has cerebral palsy and every day is a challenge. One of Kacie’s favorite things to do is to watch Disney movies. She likes to pretend she is a princess like Cinderella and Snow White; and she is a little princess. New Hope for Kids granted Kacie’s wish to go on a Disney family cruise this summer. It was a big wish that could not be fulfilled without the help of our community. A UCF Cornerstone Knights for Hope team raised nearly $3,000 to help make Kacie’s wish come true. One of the best parts was celebrating Kacie’s wish with her family and friends in her school classroom.

Meet Robert

At 13, Robert would love to play sports like other youngsters his age, but due to spina bifida, his mobility is limited. New Hope for Kids wants to give Robert something special to look forward to—a trip to Peru with his mother and sister to see his grandparents and homeland. It has been years since he saw his family there, and Robert’s eyes lit up with anticipation when he asked if that could be his wish. The Dreamers and Achievers Team helped to grant Robert’s wish by raising nearly $3,000! The spirit of the team has been an inspiration. Robert was also honored with an invitation to attend one of UCF’s games with them. They went “beyond the call of duty” to make sure he has a celebration that he will never forget. This is in keeping with New Hope for Kid’s goal to make every wish a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Ben Rides the Polar Express

Ben is only 4 ½ years old and he’s had a rough time due to M-CMTC, initials for a medical condition that causes blockages in the brain, seizures and asthma. Ben loves cars, planes and trucks, but especially trains. Since he read Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express he has longed to be a part of its great adventure. This heartwarming story is about the power of belief! It resonates across generations and has touched the hearts of many children and adults. Ben’s faith that dreams can come true was rewarded by a trip to ride on the real Polar Express–a journey he won’t soon forget! New Hope for Kids granted Ben’s wish in December. In addition to riding the Polar Express train through the Smoky Mountains with family and friends, they enjoyed the Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Dollywood, and the train museum.

Ben’s mom Ann shared, “The Polar Express was magical! We were treated like royalty. They sang the hot chocolate song while serving it and Ben danced in the aisle. Ben loved singing and dancing to songs from the movie and meeting Santa. His favorite part was when the engineer let him blow the train’s whistle! Ben said, ‘Can YOU believe it? It’s the Polar Express!’ His face was pure happiness. Sometimes we wonder, ‘why us?’ Others reach out to us and we begin to learn the lesson. Special people like Ben teach us so much about human kindness.”

New Hope for Kids had help granting Ben’s wish from UCF’s Cornerstone Strictly Business Team. Comprised of 7 business majors, they raised $2000 for Ben’s wish. Ben charmed his way into their hearts as he showed them his collection of trains, planes and trucks and was obviously delighted with the team’s attention. Strictly Business didn’t waste any time in planning a Publix fundraiser, Hip Hop Showcase, and a golf tournament. Greenway Ford also participated and donated a Mustang for a hole-in-one prize. These events provided learning experiences applicable to their future business career. They also planned a memorable party at Ben’s school. In addition to raising funds for Ben’s wish, Strictly Business was also able to obtain free tickets for the Polar Express ride and discounted accommodations. They’ve made a difference in Ben and his family’s lives and New Hope for Kids.

Meet Elyse

At 17, Elyse is learning to become more independent, but there are many challenges for her. She has Down syndrome, an extra 21st chromosome that causes learning and growth problems as well as increased health risks and shortened life expectancy. Elyse shines in spite of these challenges. She is social and vibrant. Her wish was to go to New York City, see Broadway shows,shop and taste the Big Apple! UCF’s Cornerstone Team, Angels In the Outfield, did an outstanding job to raise $2,600 plus $1,800 in-kind donation of Hotel W discount on accommodations for Elyse’s wish. They also hosted a wish celebration for Elyse at Amigo’s, her favorite restaurant. As you can see from the picture above, Elyse’s appreciation is written across her face in a big smile!

Wish Letters

Wish Letters



Diana Nazario ha sido una de las niñas afortunadas en conocer a la gente maravillosa de la gran familia de New Hope for Kids. Durante los últimos 2 anos hemos estado compartiendo con los niños en los campamentos de verano y otras actividades en donde los impedimentos de nuestros niños se convierten en laxos que unen mas cada día a esta gran familia de New Hope for Kids.
El sueno de Diana siempre fué el formar parte del Mundo Mágico de Disney y ser una de sus princesas. Sue sueno se convirtió en realidad el verano de 2005 cuando recibió, ella y toda su familia, pases anuales para los parque de Disney. Aquí tuvo la oportunidad de conocer por primera a los verdaderos personajes de Walt Disney World. Esta experiencia le sirvió grandemente en su capacidad para relacionarse con otras personas y valorizar la oportunidad que otros niños alrededor del mundo no tendrán en toda su vida. Al tener dos niños discapacitados la familia tuvo durante todo un ano la oportunidad de disfrutar y compartir juntos los sueños de uno de sus hijos. Las discapacidades nunca le impidieron disfrutar de sus sueños en la vida real. “Gracias por darme los tickets de Disney, ver el castillo donde viven las princesas. El parque que más me gustó fue Magic Kingdom y Splash Mountain”, fueron las palabras que la niña pronunció al preguntarle sobre esta maravillosa experiencia.
Nuevamente deseamos dar gracias a Dios y a New Hope for Kids por permitir a la Familia Nazario vivir y disfrutar la fantasía de nuestra niña. Sabemos que al igual que nosotros otros niños han podido ver realizados sus sueños gracias al su trabajo de New Hope for Kids. Rogamos a Dios miles de bendiciones para todos ustedes y sus seres queridos.


From Jeremiah’s Mom…
My three year old son Jeremiah was born severely premature at 23 weeks gestation. As a result of his prematurity, Jeremiah has Cerebral Palsy. Our wish for Jeremiah was to attend The Conductive Education Centers of Florida, a program for Children with motor disabilities. “Conductive Education helps its students realize self-reliance through high expectations and a unique, holistic approach to teaching. The Conductive Education philosophy is based on the adaptive powers of the brain and neurological system. Through repetition of tasks, the brain finds new ways to send messages to various muscle groups in order to execute and strengthen the desired movements.” During the few months that Jeremiah has been enrolled he has started working on potty traing, crawling, feeding, walking and other self help skills to allow him to gain some independence. Conductive education has benefited Jeremiahs greatly. Without New Hope for Kids Wish Program, Jeremiah would not have made the strides he has began to make in such a short period of time. We appreciate how New Hope for kids involves the entire family in the wish and strives to provide opportunities for the wish kids and their families to experience other great activities throughout the years. Though Jeremiah has many challenges to overcome we are encouraged about Jeremiah’s potential and future. We will be forever grateful to New Hope for Kids and the wish they made possible for our son. Samantha
“Sam” is only 9 years old suffering from the rare, but fatal, skin disease called scleroderma. Her wish was to ride in a limousine with her friends and family to Orlando International Airport and watch the planes come in. New Hope for Kids provided that and much more! West Wing Limousine picked Sam up and drove to OIA, stopped for lunch and games at McDonald’s and completed the wish with a shopping spree at Altamonte Mall. Sam was treated to a new hairdo by Tamara at Hair Cuttery and manicure by Lee Nails. Special fashion consultants helped her at Limited Two, and the Sears sporting department manager greeted Sam with a bouquet of balloons and helped her find the perfect “Gazelle” machine. It was a long and happy day! Sam wrote the following letter to help others understand her feelings.

Letter from Samantha
Hi! My name is Samantha; all my friends know me as “Sam.” I am very happy and my mom is very proud of me, because I have accomplished my goal to make Honor Roll. This is a very, very special day for me because I have something very important to tell all of you.
I have Juvenile Scleroderma, which means my body is fighting against itself. My doctors say I am systemic and that will shorten my life, but that’s okay. I’m not sad because I know I will join the angels and watch over all of the people I love. I wish everyone could understand what my family and I are going through. We laugh and we cry, we hope and we have pain. But why I’m telling each of you is this…
I am Sam and I will never give up on myself, and if I can teach one person one thing, it is that no matter what life gives you, you NEVER GIVE UP! Because I believe in angels and they watch over us all, someday I too will be an angel watching over you. Please be kind and make each other smile.

Love, Sam Angel

Thank you so much for making Rachel’s wish for a dog come true. Lexie has become part of the family. Rachel and her siblings love playing with Lexie, feeding her, brushing her, giving her a bath, and taking her for walks. Rachel was so excited and filled with wonder when her dream came true. We also appreciate the gift cards for Pets Mart and your assistance with veterinary bills. Thanks also for the gifts you brought for Rachel’s little brother and sister, Joshua and Hope. John, Mary & Rachel

P.S Thank you very much

P.P.S My dad is starting to like Lexie better

Volunteer Testimonials

New Hope for Kids Volunteer Testimonials

A team is only as strong as all of its members. New Hope for Kids has been truely blessed with so many wonderful Volunteers and Grief Facilitators. Here are the voices of just a few of them… 


In 1992 I had the pleasure to start volunteering with Children’s Wish Foundation. The experience was empowering and like nothing else. To see the faces of those glowing children and their families and the gratitude they have in welcoming me was amazing. It was a pleasant experience when Children’s Wish and New Hope joined together. To work with other volunteers and staff members affiliated with New Hope for Kids gave me a sense of community. It is great to see how innovative everyone can be when organizing fundraisers and events for the children. The number of programs offered is very diverse and allows for all ages to participate. -Chris

Volunteering at New Hope has opened my eyes to the difficulties of a person’s life after the death of a loved one. I am thankful each and everyday that I was given an opportunity to volunteer for a such a great organization, and able to make a difference in someone’s life. -Nick



Relationships – We learn from infancy how important relationships are and how the closest ones to us form who we are in so many ways. When we lose the ones closest to us not only does our life change but so do we. It leaves emptiness that we tend to fill with sadness, guilt, blame, rebellion, and a lot of the time sheer madness as to “Why has this happened to me?” When this happens at a young age we feel so “different” in so many ways. Not until we realize that it has not only happened to us, but to so many others that we begin to accept the fact that we are not so different. I lost my father at 19 and not until I started volunteering at New Hope did I truly receive the healing I didn’t even know I needed some thirty-eight years later. To have others to talk to and share the same experience with helps these young people in ways that may not even be revealed until they become adults.


Volunteering as a grief facilitator at New Hope for Kids has added a dimension of humility and gratitude to my life that I could never have imagined. Since being introduced to the program in 2006, the children have inspired me to appreciate what I have today and to live in the moment. The ability they demonstrate to process the death of a loved one with such grace, vulnerability, and heartfelt passion makes me feel grateful to be part of their lives. To think that I might offer some guidance and assistance during that process is an honor for me. I am a better person thanks to all the children who have touched my life. -Christine



New Hope has impacted my life personally in so many ways that I cannot begin to list them all. However, the biggest impact is that I have had personal friends come to me and ask me about grief related to their own children and themselves. I always refer them to New Hope and tell them that I am not a trained counselor, but I know that New Hope will change their lives for the better.

I am proud to be associated with an organization filled with so many wonderful employees and volunteers who give so selflessly of themselves and do it with joy.

I know that if I search the rest of my life, I will not EVER find a place to volunteer that will touch my heart as much as New Hope’s has!

Thanks, New Hope!! -Ginny



After losing 4 loved ones in a six year time frame, I knew one day when I had worked through my pain that I wanted and needed to help others through their pain. When a child comes to “New Hope”, you see a child who is lost and unsure of everything, but when they leave that child knows that “New Hope” is a place of acceptance and that they are understood without a single word being spoken. They are at a place where everyone knows their inner pain. That is healing for anyone’s soul. I am deeply touched and honored to be a grief facilitator at “New Hope.” It is good for my soul too! I have been so blessed to have met these families and I pray daily for their healing. All my love to all the families. -Tamara



On April 25, 1998, Diane’s daughter Becca was killed by a drunk driver. Years later, Diane is now a veteran grief facilitator for New Hope for Kids.

About a year after our 16 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, an acquaintance approached me and told me about New Hope for Kids. She, too, was a bereaved mother and was involved with the organization. She said she was finding healing as she facilitated the healing of others. I have always loved working with children of all ages and I knew immediately that this was something I wanted, and needed, to do.

I continue to volunteer because I see the steady progress the children make in coming to terms with their grief and then their ability to move on. It is uplifting to see this process take place over and over again. What could be more affirming to the human spirit than these children, who, having been given more than you would think they could handle, begin to laugh and comfort others?
– Diane G.




Annual Giving Society

Giving Kids Hope Annual Giving Society

New Hope for Kids is Florida’s largest independent grief support program and Central Florida’s oldest wish fulfilment organization. Over the years, we have helped over 2,500 children through grief facilitation and granted over 1,200 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in Central Florida. Our mission is to bring hope, healing and happiness to children and families suffering grief, loss or life-threatening illnesses.

But there are still thousands more who desperately need our services, so we are asking for your help.

A Growing Need

New Hope for Kids has established the Giving Kids Hope Annual Giving Society to provide a consistent source of community support for our programs. Last year alone, 240 children and 200 adults went through our Grief Program and this year more families than ever are knocking on our door. Our Special Circumstances grief program for survivors of homicide or suicide deaths has grown significantly over the last two years.

Why We Need Your Annual Gift

New Hope for Kids relies on the support of individuals within our community, and we make sure that all donations are used wisely to complete our mission. We are proud that over 93% of our revenue goes directly to program services, one of the highest averages in the nation.

But there is a cost to provide our programs to Central Florida’s children and families and their numbers grow every year. Grief Support costs $1,200 per child each year while our Wishes for Kids Program costs an average of $2,500 per child. Your annual gift will ensure that we meet the needs of Central Florida’s kids.

Annual Giving Levels

Level: Sustaining Member $10,000 ($834.00 per month)

  • Sustaining-member recognition on our donor wall
  • Personal recognition gift
  • Engraved donor brick
  • Leadership Giving Society dinner with a distinguished speaker
  • Recognition in Charter Membership Roster
  • Invitation to exclusive Donor Reception
  • Receipt of New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in all New Hope for Kids publications

Gold Level$5,000 ($417.00 per month)

  • Gold-level recognition on our donor wall
  • Personal Gold Member recognition gift
  • Six tickets for the “Art of the Vine” Event
  • Twenty-five tickets to the Annual Mascot Games
  • Recognition in Charter Membership Roster
  • Invitation to exclusive Donor Reception
  • Lifetime subscription to New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in all New Hope for Kids publications

Silver Level $2,500 ($209.00.00 per month)

  • Silver-level recognition on our donor wall
  • Silver-level recognition gift of four tickets to the “Art of the Vine” event and twelve tickets to the Annual Mascot Games
  • Invitation to exclusive Donor Reception
  • Lifetime subscription to New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in New Hope for Kids publications

Bronze Level $1,000 ($84.00 per month)

  • Bronze-lember recognition on our donor wall
  • Bronze-level recognition gift of two tickets to the “Art of the Vine” event and six tickets to the Annual Mascot Games
  • Invitation to exclusive Donor Reception
  • Lifetime subscription to New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in New Hope for Kids publications

New Hope Fellow $500 ($42.00 per month)

  • Fellow-level recognition gift of two tickets to the Annual Mascot Games
  • Invitation to Fellows and Friends Donor Reception
  • Lifetime subscription to New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in New Hope for Kids annual report

New Hope Friend $100 ($8.50 per month)

  • Friend-level recognition gift
  • Invitation to Fellows & Friends Donor Reception
  • Lifetime subscription to New Hope for Kids newsletter
  • Recognition in New Hope for Kids annual report


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