Make-a-Wish for Speech and Debate Camp

If you had leukemia, and someone granted you the wish of a fully-funded trip of your choice, where would you go? Fulfilling such wishes is what the Make-a-Wish Foundation does. They contacted me to let me know that a 17-year-old from Missouri has made her wish to attend my Training Minds Camp this summer.

Make-a-Wish Foundation of Missouri

This is incredible. What a privilege and honor this is. Most young people would opt for Disneyland or meeting Justin Bieber, but this young lady is choosing debate camp. Now that’s WOW for you!

There’s quite a bit to this story. I’d like to focus on three specifics that are certain to inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

About Sarah

Her name is Sarah. She is one of six children and attends the Pillar of Fire debate club in the St. Louis area. Her entire family is coming out to San Diego for the Training Minds Speech & Debate Camp at Point Loma Nazarene University, July 30-August 3.

Sarah has Acute Lymphatic Luekemia (ALL), a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. It’s high risk, but may not be terminal. Miracles do happen with ALL, so there is a chance she could go into remission. [Clarification from the family: Sarah is currently in remission, still under chemo.] Survival rates are common, but it’s still a long, relentless battle.

Sarah is receiving chemotherapy on Tuesdays and is on four medications. The medical summaries state her health is “good,” which means she’s fully functioning but may get tired at times. Accommodating for her time on campus is doable. My coaches are very much looking forward to meeting her.

About Sarah’s Wish

Make-a-Wish Foundation raises funds to grant wishes to children suffering from fatal and high-risk sicknesses. Sarah is a homeschool student who got her first taste of speech and debate last year. Her coach shared with her an email I sent out about camp, and she put Training Minds Camp on the top of her wish list.

I visited the granted wishes on the Make-a-Wish website. Debate camp will stick out like a soar thumb compared to the travel cruises, amusement parks and the movie star meet ups. When I spoke with Sarah on the phone, I told her how excited I was for choosing my camp. She laughed and confessed she was surprised that so many people are excited. “I just chose where I wanted to go,” she said.

To tell you the truth, the Point Loma Camp is sizing up to be my very best ever. We have nearly 100 students registered so far. I’m flying in coaches from all over the world to train the next generation of speakers and debaters. We’ll be on the shores of the Pacific Ocean on the beautiful PLNU campus “training minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13) for five days of speech and debate.

Despite Sarah’s fight with cancer, she is determined to make this next year of speaking and debating her best. This is where the story gets interesting.

About Sarah’s Choice

Of the five speech tracks available to students, Sarah chose Platform. This means she will be trained to write a platform speech (e.g. an oratory, expository, or persuasive speech). A lot of platform speeches are school subjects turned into speeches, not anything significant or profound.

That’s because most young people don’t have a powerful platform from which to build. They often write speeches about other people or other things in life. But Sarah has a platform. She’s struggling with one of the most brutal sicknesses in the world. Training Minds will be out to turn that platform into action and win some tournaments.

It just so happens that our keynote speaker is Michael Hyatt, bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Michael’s “platform” is to help others build their platforms. In fact, I convinced Michael to keynote our little camp right around the time I attended his Platform Conference in February. (That took some persuasion: Michael Hyatt is one of the most sought after public speakers today.)

This is brewing up to be quite a story, don’t you think?

Sure, my coaches and I are humbled by the fact that we got chosen over amusement parks and pop stars. But I believe there is something greater at work here. Sarah has a very unique gift—a platform—that has the ability to become a powerful speech that will touch people’s lives, make a difference in the world, and bring her closer to the will God has in store for her.

I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. And I’m glad Sarah is, too.

More on Point Loma Training Minds Camp.
More on Make-a-Wish Foundation.
More on Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

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  • Daniel Hayes

    What a fantastic story, Chris! No doubt Sarah is a very, very special girl and blessed with an insight of what’s truly important to her. Of course, this also speaks volumes about Training Minds, too. I’m sure you and your team will make this a “dream come true” experience for Sarah, providing the environment for her to tell her story.

    I’m looking forward to updates!

    • Thanks Dan! Yeah, this story has pretty much every element for “wow”.

  • Julie Walker

    So it’s official, then? How special for Sarah to hang out with such great men and women who are changing the world. How fortunate for all campers and coaches to spend time with this courageous soul!

    • Yes, it’s official. We are all very excited about this. Thanks, Julie!