A Royal Caribbean Sports Manager’s Story about Make-A-Wish

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My name is Shaun and I am from South Africa. I work for Royal Caribbean International and I’m currently the Sports Manager onboard Allure of the Seas. I manage the entire sports operation onboard including the management of 20 staff members.  The sports program consists of the FlowRider®, Zip Line, Rock Climbing Walls and tournaments and the Walk for Wishes. It is my job to ensure all our guests have a great experience participating in the events we run onboard.

Walk for Wishes is a fundraiser that Royal Caribbean hosts each sailing on every ship in the fleet to raise money for Make-A-Wish®.  Guests donate $10 and receive a free t-shirt which they wear while they walk a mile at sea to show support for Make-A-Wish.  All the proceeds are donated to Make-A-Wish to help grant wishes for kids with life-threatening medical conditions. I have been involved with the Walk for Wishes partnership from the start back in early 2009 when it took off like a rocket and has been a great success ever since! On average Allure of the Seas raises enough money in 3 weeks to grant one wish which costs $5,000.

Many children wish for a cruise and are granted a cruise vacation, which is a great opportunity for the entire family to have a positive experience together.  Each department onboard comes together to make the Wish cruises truly unforgettable. Their experience onboard can include but is not limited to a tour of the Bridge, dinner with the Captain, backstage passes to meet all of our performers and VIP access throughout the cruise.

I am responsible for showing our wish families a great time on the FlowRider®. We arrange a private session for the entire family and get them on for the ride of their life. It is such a great feeling seeing the Make-A-Wish child and their family laughing, smiling and just having a great time. The kids will be riding while the parents watch and take pictures. It is a really great time for everyone including myself. In that hour they forget about everything else, including their illness, and just enjoy the moment.

Every couple of years the company hosts Make-A-Wish cruises on our ship in which several children will have their wish granted onboard during one cruise.  Three years ago I was fortunate to participate in a sailing with 9 children and their families onboard.   This experience was truly unique and many of the parents and children found it to be a great bonding moment.

During the months of June and December we offer Destination Joy months onboard each of our ships.  During these two months each ship challenges each other to raise as much money as possible for the foundation.  Last year, the competition was very intense and we were neck and neck with another ship so our Captain decided to raise the stakes.  He auctioned off himself diving into the Aqua Theater pool in full dress uniform!  The money raised during this event pushed us ahead of all the other ships and we were the most successful fundraising ship in our fleet during Destination Joy.  Our involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation brings out the best in our crew onboard.  Being a part of a Wish is an amazing experience.

  • http://facebook Angela Myers

    Are you doing any thing special on the Enchantment of the Seas? May 24-27

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Hi Angela, every ship has different, exciting activities onboard and to help stay up to date with everything going on we suggest you check your cruise compass daily. Thank you.

  • jackie

    Thank you Sean for making it a great time for the children and their families. I was on Allure once when a Make-a-Wish family was on board. Also walked & received my t-shirt. It is so wonderful that RCI does this. It is very important for these families to have special experiences. Keep up the good work. By the way, was it Captain Johnny that raised the stakes? I could definitely picture him doing that. He was captain in 2011 when we were on board. What a wonderful experience we had with him as captain that week.

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Jackie. We’re so proud that many of our guests choose to participate in Make-A-Wish activities. Thank you for your comment.

      • Tony

        My wife and I were on the Explorer of The Seas 3/15-3/24, over $6,000 was donated to Make-a-Wish, great program and great job by cruise director Richard Spacey and Captain Olav.

        • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

          Thank you for saying so, Tony.

  • Anita Ward

    Shaun, we cruised with you in December and have never been so busy! As the Sports Manager on Allure, when did you have time to sleep?! I will admit that I am over 50 (actually over 60!), but that did not stop me from enjoying the FlowRider and the Zip Line. Royal Caribbean has always provided us with exceptional onboard experiences. We actually had to come home from our cruise and rest up!

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      We appreciate your comment, Anita and are glad that you can enjoy all of our activities onboard. Thank you.

  • Marian L

    Amazing story, continue your ‘journey’ helping others realize their dreams, did captain jump in with his hat. Lol.

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Hi Marian, he was in full uniform. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://Facebook Louise Heffern

    I think it’s awesome what you are doing for Make A Wish. I have been on your ships and have done this a couple of times. I am glad that you mentioned this on Facebook. The word needs to get out there so others know. Especially like the Captains extra effort to beat out the other ship. It’s a great program and love the fact that all the proceeds go to the cause.

    Thank You

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for your wonderful comment, Louise. We’re glad it has made such an impact with you and hope it resonates with others.

  • Sue Ellis

    Adam,

    I was not aware that Allure had this event. I just sailed with 5 other ccouples on the March 3rd sailing on the Allure and i was never made aware of this. We have participated in the fundraiser on other Royal cruises we have done 21 to date. Maybe it needs to be publisized more and or advertised where a great number of people gather at once like in the Aqua theater after a show or in the theater after the headliner show or main event. The ice skating arena would be good too. I feel bad that we did not participate.

    Thanks,

    Sue Ellis

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      We’ll be sure to pass along your input, Sue, and are glad that you are now aware of our Make-A-Wish program.

  • Glenda Ehler

    This is very hard for me, but I’m going to share my story. Fall of 2009 should’ve been the happiest of memories for my family. We had just found out we were expecting our 4th baby (not planned). By Oct we found out he was another boy, which we had 3 already (ages 10,7,4) Oct 28,2009-my second born son, unexpectedly died. He was my angel in life. He was everybody’s friend, so kind & thoughtful. He was saving his money so we could ALL take a cruise! See, his father & I had just went on a cruise on Dec 2008 & we had a fabulous time but when we came back we couldn’t think of another trip without our sons. We just thought they would just love everthing about a cruise. C.J. did ask us about next time we went on cruise if we were going to take them. C. J. was so excited about us saving our money so we could go on a cruise. We would pinch every penney and he wouldn’t mind saying we were saving it for our cruise! Unfortunately, my C.J., my second born boy, died from an undetected heart condition, such a rare condition that can only be detected in autopsy. Really? Try to tell that to my other children & I was pregnant with my fourth child. I now live with the urge to fulfill my son’s wish of going on a cruise. After our cruise in 2008, we told them that’s the only way to travel. My wish is to take my boys, (now age 13,8,3) on a fun cruise in memory of their brother C.J! I’m so trying to live my life as normal as I can for my surviving boys, but it is not easy! Thanks for listening!

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Your story has truly touched us, Glenda. Thank you so much for sharing the memory of CJ with us. We hope that your cruise puts smiles across all of your faces and we know that CJ will be there alongside with you.

  • Sandra Hetherington

    In March of this year we sailed on the Vision of the Seas and my husband who has Parkinsons participated in the Make-A-Wish walk using his walker to complete the mile. Many people stopped to pat him on the back and wish him well and I know he felt good for doing his part to help raise money for this worthwhile cause. I understand that this cruise raised well over $3000. Well done Vision cruisers!

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Your comment warms our hearts, Sandra. We appreciate you sharing your story with us and our readers.

  • Mike Knoth

    As a family that just returned from a Make A Wish trip aboard the Freedom of the Seas, I can not begin to express my gratitude to the foundation and Royal Caribbean. Everyone involved made sure that my daughter’s wish was perfect. Thanks to the captain for the bridge tour and Jason that cordinated the Flow Rider lesson and Walk for Wishes event. The shows and events aboard the ship are unbelievable, and I hope to see them in the future.

    I need to take a moment to thank one indiidual that made our trip unforgetable; John Frye, who is is the Adventures Ocean Manager, and cordinator with Make A Wish. John made an already special trip unforgetable. This gentleman connected with my daughter and another child from Make A Wish with similiar stories about cancer; he made the kids feel “normal”and made everyone smile with his antics on the ship.

    I never though I would enjoy a cruise, but Royal Caribbean proved me wrong, thank you for the vacation of a lifetime.

    Mike

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      We greatly appreciate your message, Mike. We will be sure to pass this along and share your story with the rest of our team. We’re so happy to hear you enjoyed your cruise and hope you join us onboard again. Thank you.

  • Shallen Gordon

    I enjoy participating in the Make-a-Wish walk on every Royal Caribbean cruise I take. Participating would be even more fun if each ship had a personalized Make-a-Wish T-shirt with the name of the ship and a different color theme each year. You have such wonderful marketing people that I am sure they could personalize the shirts! Would you please consider doing this?

    I am looking forward to my next 3 Royal Caribbean cruises booked (including the eastbound transatlantic on the Oasis next September!) and can’t wait to learn more about the new Quantum of the Seas!–Shallen

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you for your suggestions, Shallen. We will be sure to pass it along.

  • Catrina

    Dear Adam,
    I am so glad that I read your blog! My family and I will soon be departing on a cruise on the Navigator of the seas. My son is a Make a wish child. I had no idea of the great lengths that Royal Caribbean takes to help Make a Wish foundation, and the families that sail with you! I am also thankful that I will have a way to pay back a little of what has been given to my family as I will walking for a wish! Can’t wait to share what I am sure is going to be a vacation of a lifetime, thanks in no small part to Royal Carri bean, The Make a wish foundation, and all of the wonderful people out there in the world who have such big hearts for all the children affected by Cancer everyday. Thanks again Adam for all the great info.
    Gratefully,
    Catrina, mother of an 18 year old Cancer Survivor

    • http://www.royalcaribbean.com Adam

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Catrina. We truly appreciate everything you do and are happy to be a part of you and your family’s experience. We look forward to having you onboard.