Make-A-Wish and change a life |

Make-A-Wish and change a life

by Karel Delbecq, Nevada Appeal News Service

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada, Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch and Northern Nevada Wandering Wheels have teamed up to bring a weekend of activity and music while helping to make a difference in the lives of children living with life-threatening illnesses.

The inaugural event kicks off with a poker run Saturday and culminates Sunday with a concert featuring classic-rock bands, Steppenwolf and Foghat.

Make-A-Wish of Northern Nevada was founded 20 years ago as the second chapter in the nation and granted its 500th wish in Northern Nevada in March. The organization has grown worldwide and has granted more than 80,000 wishes.

Locally, the number of children needing wishes has reached record highs, according to Val Viegener, a member of Wandering Wheels, Make-A-Wish board member and organizer of the event.

“Last year we granted 20 wishes,” he said. “This year we’ve granted 28 and have 21 more, pending.”

Financially, the local chapter is having difficulty meeting demands, a challenge Viegener is committed to changing this weekend.

“For me personally, telling a kid, ‘You’ll have to wait for your wish,’ is not acceptable.

“(Many of) these kids don’t have the time to wait and the need is dire.”

Make-A-Wish is funded solely by these kinds of events and through private donations.

Eighty-one percent of proceeds go directly to granting wishes, Viegener said, adding volunteers are the driving force of the organization.

“Once people get the emotion, they usually come on as volunteers,” he said, adding area businesses and community members have been “incredibly” supportive.

“Ronnie Hill, the general manager for Sierra Golf Ranch, and John Procaccini of Sierra Starlight Amphitheatre have been incredibly helpful and have lent their knowledge and talent to making this a success,” Viegener said. “They’ve just been awesome.”

The outpouring of support hasn’t ended there.

A1926 Ford Roadster with a 454-inch Chevy big block motor was donated for raffle by an anonymous law enforcement officer from Sparks. Tickets will be available both days.

Dennis Kottke, owner of Minden-based Sierra Sierra Enterprises race team, which took second place at last week’s Reno Air Races, is bringing a cadre of specialty cars.

Among them will be his Atlanta Formula Series Toyota and Star Mazda, as well as an eclectic collection of other high-performance cars, Viegener said.

Disc jockey Bob Castle of the Hawk will be riding in Saturday’s Poker Run followed by his van. Tune in for a live broadcast both days.


9 to 11 a.m. Poker Run registration at David Walley’s Hotsprings and Resort in Genoa and the Sienna Hotel in Reno. Both start points hit the same poker check points on different routes. Cost is $10 per poker card with unlimited cards available. For information on the run, call Wandering Wheels members Joni Lund at 782-3305 or Brenda Fisher at 782-4199.

2 to 11 p.m. Sharkey’s Casino, Gardnerville; enjoy barbecue, vendor booths and events with live music by Cool Black Kettle.

6 to 9 p.m. Jezabelle’s in Gardnerville; more barbecue and events with live music by Deja Blues.


9 to 10 a.m. Fun Run registration at Sharkey’s Casino in Gardnerville. Take the scenic loop through Tahoe to Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch where the events progress.

11 a.m. Concert gates open at Sierra Nevada Golf Ranch in Genoa. Enjoy exhibition fencing and putting contest.

Noon, live music by Deja Blues.

3 p.m. ,Steppenwolf and Foghat perform. Tickets cost $25 at the gate or are available in advance at Sharkey’s Casino in Gardnerville and at Michael’s Cycles, 2680 Carson St., Carson City.

Call Make-A-Wish at 826-8008 or Viegener at 781-4173. To learn about Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit

Happy faces: Christopher, 4, recently returned from his Make-A-Wish trip to Disneyworld. A resident of Carson City, he is presently in remission from leukemia. Christopher and his parents will be attending the Make-A-Wish benefit event./submitted photo