A Wish Becomes a Journey for One Young Musician
By Martin Lenkowsky / August 1, 2016
When 14-year-old Coral Springs resident Gilon Kravatsky traveled to New York in May to see the world-renowned New York Philharmonic Orchestra perform Gustav Holst's orchestral suite, The Planets, at Lincoln Center, he not only had a backstage pass; he got to take out his French horn and rehearse with them as well. Gilon - along with his family - were invited guests of the orchestra, courtesy of Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. Gilon, who will be entering Douglas High School in the fall, suffers from Chrohn's disease, a severe inflammatory disease affecting the bowels. "His wish was to hear and play with the New York Philharmonic," said Steven Kravatsky, Gilon's father. "He came up with it on his own. What they actually arranged was for him to play with them."
Steven was surprised when Make-A-Wish liaisons told them they'd sponsor a trip for Gilon. He said he had been under the mistaken impression that Make-A-Wish only grants wishes to terminally ill children. "It also includes chronic diseases," Steven said. Not only did the organization send Gilon to New York, they also sent his dad, his mom Michelle, along with his three siblings, Ari, 22, Rachel, 20, and Yaacov, 6.
"It was a family-oriented experience," Steven said, adding Make-A-Wish also paid for the family's side trips to New York's Museum of Natural History, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. "All the things Gilon wanted to see," he said.
When the Kravatskys traveled to Lincoln Center they were escorted by chaperones and transported by limousine. The orchestra treated them well, Steven said. "They were a very laid back bunch. They made it a special experience for him." Gilon had the honor of having lunch with orchestra members. "He met with the conductor and the trombone player, who's one of the foremost in the world," said his dad. "They were so nice to him."
Gilon described his experience as "amazing." "Just getting to talk to the players, sit next to them and have lunch with them. Some of the pieces they played were so insane. The way they played them was amazing."
As expected, Gilon loved New York City. "There's a big difference from South Florida," he said. One of the people instrumental in getting Gilon his wish was Fran Garfunkel, a volunteer "wish granter" with Make-A-Wish. "I do have a 'wish partner,' Martha Carmen, who worked for Gilon's doctor and recommended him to be a wish child. He met all the qualifications," Garfunkel said.
She confirmed a wish child no longer has to carry a terminal diagnosis. "That was eons ago," Garfunkel said. "Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. We're not just granting wishes to terminally ill children. A majority do survive and go into remission."
According to Steven Kravatsky, Gilon's condition appears to be stable with the infusion treatments he gets for three hours every six weeks. "That's how his meds are administered," Steven said. "You'd never know it [by] looking at him. You wouldn't know he's sick."
Gilon and brother Ari are driving up to Maine in the middle of July for a camping trip. While there, they plan to go rock climbing and white water rafting.
Make-A-Wish Southern Florida
Grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. During the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 560 wishes were granted, the most in the chapter's history.
Serves children and their families in 13 counties including Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.
Make-A-Wish Southern Florida is one of 62 chapters in the United States.
Granted more wishes last year than all but three other chapters in the world, and was the only one within that group not including more than one state.
Raises money to grant wishes through corporate sponsorships, special events, foundation grants, and individual contributions. It receives no federal or state funding.
More than 74 percent of its $7million annual budget is allocated toward granting wishes.
The average cost of a wish is $5,000.
Disney World is the most popular wish.
More than 600 volunteers help the Southern Florida chapter make wishes come true.
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