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Charity grants wish of local boy

Make-A-Wish kid Gabe Andersen poses with Star Wars impersonators for Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee’s Stars For Wishes presented by Red Light Management on Jan. 27, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images for Middle Tennessee Make-A-Wish)

Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee’s sixth annual Stars for Wishes presented by Red Light Management raised $314,000. The event took place last Saturday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Hosted by wish kids Jessica Meyer, Lily Paris and Jalan Sowell, the evening was filled with heartfelt performances by Lee Greenwood, Maggie Rose and Tim Rushlow and a delicious meal from Fort Louise’s Chef Greg Biggers.

“What a wonderful evening,” said Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee President and CEO, Beth Torres. “We know when a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. Right now, more than 200 local children are waiting for their wishes. It takes a community of support like Red Light Management, Crowe Horwath, our other sponsors and tonight’s participants to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We are incredibly grateful to all the donors, wish families and celebrities who came together to raise $314,000 for wish kids in Middle Tennessee.”

More than 400 guests began their evening with a silent auction including more than 150 items donated by indi

viduals and local organizations. Attendees then enjoyed a three-course meal created by renowned Chef Greg Biggers of Nashville’s Fort Louise and Chicago’s Cafe des Architectes at the Sofitel Hotel.

The evening included performances by country music artists Lee Greenwood, Maggie Rose and Tim Rushlow.

The highlight of the evening came when wish kids Lily, Jalan and Jessica were joined by the 501st Legion to grant Gabe’s wish. Gabe, a 13-year-old boy battling lymphoma, will leave for his trip to Walt Disney World Resort later this year. Wilson County’s Gabe Anderson is a big fan of Disney and Star Wars. He thought he was attending the event to help raise money for other wishes, but he did not know his wish would be granted at the event.

Hendersonville’s Jessica Meyer, 15, received her wish to go to Walt Disney World Resort in 2014. She is a cancer survivor and spends a lot of her time raising resources and awareness for organizations that serve seriously ill children and inspiring those around her with her positivity.

Brentwood’s Lily Paris, 13, battled osteosarcoma and wished to meet the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in 2015. After she beat cancer, she had to fight an infection in her leg that ultimately led to having her leg amputated above her knee. Lily overcame incredible odds with her good humor and strong will still intact.

Mt. Juliet’s Jalan Sowell, 17, wished to produce and be the subject of an inspirational ESPN feature. After being diagnosed with a respiratory condition that ended his promising football career, Jalan regrouped and re-focused his knowledge and passion for football from playing to student coaching. He wished to share his story of perseverance with others. In July 2017, he was part of ESPN’s “My Wish” series.  This fall, he will be a student coach at the University of Memphis.

Stars for Wishes presented by Red Light Management was made possible with support from Crowe Horwath, Karla and Rafael Calderon, Flight Solutions, Summit Financial, Prevost, CoreCivic, Experient, First Tennessee, HCA Healthcare and TriStar Health, Hemphill Brothers Coach Company, the Tennessee Titans and Waller Lansden.

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