Jacob Lall loves anything with wheels. In fact, the eight year old with cerebral palsy says his favorite song is "Wheels on the Bus." Make-A-Wish - and a community of Saints - sent him way more than just a bus.
Pancake breakfasts and can drives - those are the types of fundraisers Lauryn Grugan '22 organized in her first year as club president of Siena Wishmakers on Campus. The drives were successful, often netting hundreds of dollars in donations for Make-A-Wish. But this year, because of the pandemic, Grugan had to completely reimagine their fundraising strategy. She organized an online Wish Your Way fundraiser. The results were nothing like the in-person drives... they were so much better.
The club used Instagram to encourage its members to reach out to friends and family and share information about the campaign. They set a lofty goal of $1,000 - which they eclipsed in one hour. Within 24 hours, they had raised $2,600. By the end of the nine-day campaign, the Siena Wishmakers on Campus had collected $5,060 for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York... and for Jacob.
Schenectady mayor Gary McCarthy recently celebrated "Jacob Lall Day" with an official proclamation. Jacob's original transportation-themed wish was canceled because of the pandemic, so the mayor organized a surprise parade past Jacob's home with police, fire, and sheriff's vehicles, a CDTA trolley bus, and volunteers in decorated cars. The Siena donations helped to make Jacob's wish come true. And on Jacob's Day, the clock tower at Schenectady City Hall was lit Make-A-Wish blue in Jacob's honor.
Make-A-Wish of Northeast New York posted a story to its website celebrating the outstanding achievement of the Siena Wishmakers on Campus.
“I think it’s definitely motivating that we see we can make this much of a difference in such a short amount of time. It showed us that the community wants to get involved as well; parents and alumni and friends from other colleges also donated.”
Lauryn Grugan '22
Jen Cullen, development manager for Northeast New York, added that no one should be surprised by the generosity of the extended Saints community.
"It made me cry. [Jacob] made me cry. I knew he would jump up once he saw the bus. He loves the bus. Thank you to Make-A-Wish for making this day happen and making him so happy."