Wilmington event raises $90k for Make-A-Wish, features celebrity guest

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — An event in Wilmington on Thursday raising money for a good cause more than doubled its donation goal, thanks to the help of a celebrity guest.

The third annual ‘Wishes at Waterman’s Celebrity Bartending’ event at Waterman’s Brewing featured local real estate and mortgage “superstars” competing behind the bar, trying to raise the most tips.

“We’re so excited,” said organizer Janis Netherland. “This is going to grant so many wishes for kids in our community and we are over the moon thrilled.”

The event raised more than $90,000 for Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina. Netherland, the director of philanthropy for the organization, says this money will directly benefit children involved in the program.

“The average cost of a wish is about $7,500 and really kids can wish for almost anything,” Netherland said. “We right now are granting a lot of wishes for puppies and playhouses and swing sets, and backyard swimming pools, a lot of things that we can grant during this pandemic. We’ve had to curtail some of our travel wishes, but we’re getting to ramp those up again and so we’re super excited to have the funds from this event to help us do that.”

The featured celebrity guest this year was Stanley Cup champion goaltender Cam Ward, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes. In addition to signing autographs and taking photos, Ward got behind the bar himself to help out.

“I can’t say I have any bartending experience, so I’m definitely a rookie when it comes to that,” he said.

Ward does have experience with the Make-A-Wish foundation, helping to make some of those wishes come true.

“We’ve had some kids who wanted to come in and meet the player like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and just seeing the smile and impact that it makes on those kids that might be going through a difficult time and just ease the pain a little bit and give them a great experience, and really that’s what it’s all about,” Ward said.

After three successful years, organizers hope they can expand the event in the future to benefit other areas of North Carolina.

“We want to make many, many wishes come true,” said organizer Richard Lytle. “I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”

View the results here.

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