Iowa DOT's Gary Kretlow named Make-A-Wish volunteer of the year

Make-A-Wish_Foundation_logoStar light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

What would your wish be? Gary Kretlow, design technician specialist in the Office of Design, makes wishes come true for sick kids with life threatening illnesses in central Iowa.

Gary-no-backgroundKretlow and his wife, Kelly, have been volunteering with Make-A-Wish® for the past eight years. This year, Gary was named Make-A-Wish Iowa’s Chapter Volunteer of the Year for his outstanding leadership on committees, helping with events in the Des Moines area, and reaching out to businesses and media outlets to promote events.

The Kretlows, who are known in Make-A-Wish lingo as “wish granters,” meet with families and sick children to get an idea of the child’s wish. They take the information back to the foundation’s “wish office.” When all the arrangements are made, the Kretlows get to deliver the wish back to the family.

“We try to meet with the families together,” said Gary. “Kelly will usually spend time with the child, while I talk to the parents and help them complete the paperwork.”

Gary said the wishes come in four categories, I wish to have …, I wish to meet …, I wish to go … and I wish to be …. “Probably half the time the wish is to go to Disneyworld,” he said, “The girls almost always want to meet the princesses.”

The Iowa Chapter of Make-A-Wish averages about 180 granted wishes every year. The average cost of a wish is $8,600. Gary estimates they have helped 16 families through the process in the last eight years. Sometimes the wishes are more complicated and can take time to come through. To fulfill the wish, you may need to work around treatment schedules and health setbacks. 

“One wish took two years to grant because of the child’s health issues. In the process, we do get close to the families,” he said. “We still keep in touch with many of them and run into them on occasion around town.” 

Rachel Reams, director of operations for Make-A-Wish Iowa, said, “Make-A-Wish Iowa is pleased to honor Gary with our Iowa Chapter Volunteer of the Year award. Commitment to our wish children is evident in Gary’s compassion serving as a wish granter and in his leadership in hosting events to raise money for wishes. Gary’s years of service to our Make-A-Wish children are invaluable.” 

To find out more about Make-A-Wish Iowa, go to



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