The organization, Special Spaces, was originally featured when publishing this blog. Shortly after publication, the foundation announced a change in their mission to now solely serve children with cancer.

Charity Organizations for Children with Critical Illness

There are SO many amazing charity organizations doing big things for critically ill children. Often, children with congenital heart defects qualify for these resources. By far, the most well known organization is the Make-a-Wish Foundation. With chapters all across the U.S. and even abroad, they make a child’s wish come to life. Their service is free with no cost to families. But, did you know there are other organizations ready and willing to help bring a smile to your heart warrior’s face? Here are 5 charity organizations you need to know about if you are a parent to a child with CHD or other critical illness. 

Beads of Courage

Tucker, age 4, showing off his Beads of Courage.
Leo, age 7 months diagnosed with HLHS, surrounded by his beads of courage.

By providing an outlet of arts-in-medicine, Beads of Courage gives beads to children who are suffering from serious illnesses. Beads are collected for each poke, procedure, and milestone. These beads represent the child’s bravery and accomplishment in a visual way. Many hospitals across the country participate in the Beads of Courage program as a way of encouraging their patients. You can also participate from your home clinic through Beads in the Mail. They even have a special program just for siblings.

Icing Smiles

Girl with dream cake from charity organization for children with critical illness.
Callie with her tiered Dumbo “dream” cake.

Need a cake for a special occasion? Icing Smiles provides custom cakes at no cost to families of children with critical illnesses. They will provide a fun celebration cake to a child or sibling as an escape from the worry that complex medical conditions can bring. Critically ill children are eligible for one “dream” cake (highly skilled tiered cake design) and multiple “fun” cakes (sheet cakes). Siblings are eligible for one dream cake and one fun cake in two different years. Local bakers volunteer their time to provide these cakes at no cost to families.

Pictured is 3 year old heart warrior, Callie, with her Dumbo dream cake. She celebrated her birthday with this cake just 5 days before her third open-heart surgery for Truncus Arteriosis.

Do it for the Love

Music can be soothing and even healing. Do it for the Love makes live music experiences available to those who need the healing power of music most. They serve individuals living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges, and wounded veterans. Do it for the Love arranges for them to see a live music performance at no cost. They will reimburse for travel expenses, a hotel stay, and the cost of the concert tickets. What a gift!

Sweet Dreams

Two year old Micah in his dream bedroom designed by the Sweet Dreams Foundation.

The mission of the Sweet Dreams Foundation is to improve the quality of life for children who are battling a life-threatening disease through the creation of a dream bedroom. Children must be between the ages of 2-17 to apply.

The organization was founded by Jennifer Donchenko after she witnessed her grandfather’s struggle with cancer. She gained a passion for helping others with significant medical hardships.

Catch-a-Dream Foundation

Little boy hunting on his dream trip from a charity organization for children with critical illness.
R.J. from Mississippi on his dream hunting trip in 2018.
Little boy fishing on his dream trip from a charity organization for children with critical illness.
Alec from Missouri on his deep sea fishing expedition.

Several years ago, Make-a-Wish introduced a national policy stating they would no longer grant hunting-related wishes. The Catch-a-Dream Foundation was created to fill this gap. They grant wishes to children who want to hunt as a part of their wish. This nonprofit organization. now grants once in a lifetime hunting and fishing expeditions to children with life-threatening illnesses. Children must be 18 years of age or younger and at least age 6 (or age 8 for hunting). Now, wishes of deep sea fishing, elk hunting, and exploring the great outdoors are possible too!

Wish Granting Organizations

Make-a-Wish is an amazing wish granting organization with such a big reach. But, these 5 charity organizations for children with critical illness are also great resources. Do you have any personal experiences with these organizations? Any other foundations that you love? Tell us in the comments, we’d love to hear about them!

Also read: Does My Child with CHD Qualify for Make-a-Wish?