Five Questions With: Mary O’Rourke

Children’s Wishes, a Warwick-based nonprofit that provides wish experiences and support to families of children dealing with chronic illnesses, recently partnered with Boston-based wellness-product maker Mighty Well on a new Mighty Mentors mentorship program. Wish Kids, through Children’s Wishes, will be paired up with Mighty Well mentors who have experienced their own serious illnesses to offer guidance and support.

Providence Business News spoke with Children’s Wishes Executive Director Mary O’Rourke about the partnership.

PBN: How did Children’s Wishes get connected with Mighty Well?

O’ROURKE: One night, I was on Instagram and an ad for Mighty Well popped up. I thought it was interesting what I saw and what they were doing for people to empower [those] who are on their illness journey. I messaged them to see if they [had] worked with Wish Kids, and [Mighty Well] said they had not, and that they took a look at our website … and wanted to follow up regarding working together.

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PBN: What will this partnership involve?

O’ROURKE: We will partner [mentors for Mighty Well] with one of our Wish Kids. To backtrack a little bit, we grant wishes but we also stay in touch with families as part of our family support. We see them at holiday parties and picnics, matching them up with charities if there are needs going forward.

So, what we’re doing is matching up Mighty Mentors with some of our Wish Kids who could benefit from their product line and, most importantly, from the experience that [the mentors] could give these kids since they have chronic illnesses they are dealing with – [peripherally inserted central catheter] lines and infusions. The product line is nice and a welcoming gift.

PBN: How does Mighty Well live up with Children’s Wishes’ philosophy?

O’ROURKE: What struck me was when [Mighty Well CEO and co-founder] Emily [Levy] spoke of the “illness journey,” and our mission statement speaks of “your wish, our journey.” We continue to maintain contact with our families to provide support. We know that once the wish is over, the challenges of their illness continue, so we’d like to provide that support through what we call the “Journey of the Wish.” This seems like a win-win in that we would be facilitating this mentoring program by recommending some kids to Mighty Well, and let them go off and have that type of mentor-mentee relationship independent of us.

PBN: How many mentorship opportunities do you hope the partnership will create?

O’ROURKE: I don’t have an exact number. But this is something we will introduce to all of our families. We granted 17 wishes last year and we have 13 in progress. I would say at least half – even if it’s the pending wishes – either now or some point in the future could participate in this program and benefit from it. As we reconnect with our families, we will better identify who would be a participant in this program.

PBN: Have mentors worked with a Wish Kid recently? How did it go?

O’ROURKE: Emily brought one of our Wish Kids, Zach [Tetreault], who was their first mentee, a medipack so he could put his medications in it. More importantly, Emily spent more than two hours getting to know Zach … and did some fun activities, [such as] making slime and lava lamps. They also started a friendship … and the goal is to keep that relationship going to provide support for these kids dealing with these chronic illnesses.

Emily, as CEO of Mighty Well, is pretty hands-on with this program. From the mind of a 13-year-old child, to see someone in her position who is still walking the walk and cares about what he’s going through. Emily and Zach hit it off right away and she was able to speak with him about what she has gone through [diagnosed in college with chronic neurological Lyme disease] … and it was a wonderful connection.

James Bessette is a PBN staff writer. Email him at