Bulletin News

SUNY Cortland Wishmakers Raise $8,000 for Make-A-Wish


The Cortland Wishmakers, a student-run club on campus, raised $8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in December 2017, and student passion continues to fuel its mission to help people in need.

Kateri Ruebenstahl, a senior new media design major from Washingtonville, N.Y., deserves much of the credit for this endeavor. She founded the Cortland chapter of Wishmakers in 2016 and is currently the club’s president. Starting with only a handful of members, Wishmakers has grown into an active club with more than 30 student participants.

Ruebenstahl conceived of the club while fundraising for Make-A-Wish as a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary. She reached out to the Central New York chapter of Wishmakers on Campus, a nationwide organization dedicated to Make-A-Wish fundraising, and created SUNY Cortland’s chapter.

Cortland Wishmakers raised money in December by participating in Macy’s Believe campaign. It prompted people across the United States to get into the holiday spirit and write letters to Santa Claus, with Macy’s pledging to donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter written. SUNY Cortland contributed 4,000 letters and Wishmakers doubled the dollar amount of the contribution when the club submitted the letters on Dec. 14, National Believe Day.

The campaign raised $2 million nationwide. Make-A-Wish helps the families of children with critical illnesses by granting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and helping those families overcome anxiety. The foundation has granted more than 300,000 wishes in the U.S. since 1980.

The Believe campaign is Wishmakers’ biggest event of the year but the club tables for funds year-round and sells merchandise provided by Make-A-Wish, with the proceeds going to the foundation. Wishmakers even collaborated with the Education Club to bring people to campus who have benefitted from Make-A-Wish to speak about their experiences.

Kateri Ruebenstahl
Kateri Ruebenstahl

Ruebenstahl credits club advisor and Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement Jonah Reardon as playing a crucial role in the club’s success. Reardon knows the workings of Student Government Association and its procedures and has helped guide the club through many bureaucratic obstacles.

Ruebenstahl is also grateful for the wide variety of experiences that have helped her in running the club. As a new media design major and graphic design intern for Speak Magazine, Ruebenstahl has found her design skills instrumental in creating publication materials for the club, as everything produced must meet Make-A-Wish standards.

Most valuable has been Ruebenstahl’s experience as a residence assistant in Glass Tower. The position gives Ruebenstahl a community of students who look up to her, and being an RA has also taught her a great deal in terms of public speaking, leadership skills, and confidence.

“You learn so many life skills you’d never really think about,” Ruebenstahl said. “It’s definitely good to have that community outreach.”

She will graduate in May and plans to pursue graduate school for art and design education. Ruebenstahl is optimistic about the club’s future, believing that there will always be impassioned students who want to make a difference in people’s lives.

“It’s definitely a little scary to pass on my ‘child’ to someone else,” Ruebenstahl said. “Hopefully they can keep the club running and keep doing great things.”

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Ben Mayberry