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.

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