Northwell Health, Make-A-Wish Celebrate the Wishes of Two Patients from Cohen Children’s Hospital

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and thoughts of a happy future. In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, Northwell Health and Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York decided to join forces to ensure that two special families would have much to be thankful for.

In an event to mark the ongoing collaboration between these two organizations, leaders from Northwell Health and Make-A-Wish greeted Alexander Castillo, 19, of Queens, and Seraphina O’Brien, 10, of Port Washington. Both are patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and were joined by their families to celebrate their upcoming wishes.

Alexander, diagnosed in 2015 with leukemia, describes himself as a swimmer and avid football fan. When given the opportunity to make a wish, he knew that he wanted to spend time with his family in a tropical resort. Alexander, joined today by his mother and other family members, said that he can’t wait to enjoy some R&R in Hawaii.

Seraphina also loves to spend time with her family and enjoys watching movies. The inspiration for her wish came from one of her favorites, “An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success.” Joined by her mother at the event, Seraphina was thrilled to discuss her upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris.

Also on hand was Joyce Van Drost, 19, a Make-A-Wish alum who is now a junior at Rutgers University. In 2014, Joyce’s wish to meet Oprah Winfrey came true. Citing Ms. Winfrey as a role model, Ms.Van Drost wished the two recipients well on their trips; she said that realizing her dream of meeting Oprah was an unforgettable experience.

Jeffrey Kraut, EVP, Strategy and Analytics, opened the event by congratulating Northwell staff for recent fundraising efforts on behalf of Make-A-Wish.

He said that a collaboration between the two organizations was a wonderful idea because “It’s our goal to radiate health instead of simply attracting sickness. It makes sense that we should be working together.”

Mr. Kraut was followed by Phil Lussier, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York.

“As our chapter’s No. 1 referral source, Northwell Health has long partnered with Make-A-Wish to bring the hope, strength, and joy of a wish to their eligible pediatric patients,” said Mr. Lussier. “We’re grateful for the fundraising support we had this year from Northwell and look forward to expanding the collaboration between our organizations, which will benefit children in the communities we both serve.

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Since its founding 33 years ago, Make-A-Wish Metro New York has granted the wishes of over 1,500 children treated at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

Attention media: Photos and video clips, including interviews and B-roll from the event, are available. Click here to download.

About Make-A-Wish

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. Since 1983, Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York has fulfilled the wishes of more than 13,000 children, 11,000 of them residing in the Metro New York area. In the fiscal year 2016, the chapter touched the lives of 867 wish children and their families by granting the wishes of 651 local children and facilitating 216 wish assists for children who reside in other areas, but whose wishes took place in New York. The chapter received the highest rating – 4 Stars – from Charity Navigator in June 2016. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:     
Michelle Pinto
Northwell Health

Tracey Anton
Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York
516-944-6212, x 139

Cohen Children's Medical Center

Cohen Children's Medical Center is dedicated exclusively to the care of children and committed to providing the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art care in all major clinical areas