The Wishing Star Foundation was started by the caring heart of a Spokane first grade teach, Karen Kurowski. This amazing teach experienced a young boy in her class who passed away from brain cancer. The feelings of helplessness stayed with her for many years as she asked herself, what could have been done to add some special quality of life? What she did next was nothing short of exceptional. Karen cashed in her existing 401K, bought tires for her car and went house to house, knocking on doors and soliciting for donations. A true grassroots effort to help children and their families facing these challenging life circumstances. In 1983, she and her husband Ed founded The Wishing Star Foundation, to grant special wishes to terminally ill children.
Over the years Wishing Star Foundation changed “terminally ill” to “life-threatening illnesses” which opened the wish program to more children whose lives were in turmoil due to consuming illnesses.
Spokane’s Q-6 TV and radio talk show, hosted by Mike Moran, raised the public’s awareness of Wishing Star Foundation. Another Spokane citizen, Nancy Benthin, a lady generous with her time and energy, did so much to raise funds and awareness also. Through the awareness and efforts of these people, the foundation received its first check, $1,000. This generous gift made it possible for the foundation to start the wish granting process. Wishing Star granted two wishes within a couple of weeks of each other. Soon after a Board of Directors was established. The first meetings were held at the kitchen table of Karen Huber, of Coeur d’Alene, over cookies and tea. Jeri Hershberger of Spokane, Nancy Barr of Coeur d’Alene, and Ed Kurowski of Coeur d’Alene were the other chartered members. As word got out, Wishing Star received calls from people wanting to help from all over Idaho and Eastern Washington. It was decided that Wishing Star Foundation would develop chapters and a program was created. People came forth from various areas to start chapters that would assist with fundraising and with wishes from their areas. A training program was developed as the first chapters were formed in Moscow/Lewiston area and in Coeur d’Alene by the volunteers of the GTE Telephone Pioneers.
Karen says; “The reward of this work for everyone was the excitement of the families that, just for a moment, there was a fun break in daily routine of hospital life. There will always be change, but the dedication of wonderful, caring people will remain a constant. Ed and I wish to express gratitude to all of the wonderful people through the years that have been a very vital part of the success of Wishing Star Foundation. Everyone is still a part of our memories and conversations.”
The mantle of continuing the work of Wishing Star Foundation was passed in 1990. Since then, great people have come forward to assist with the work that is required to grant the wishes of so many.
Wishing Star Founders – Ed and Karen Kurowski