My wife, Brittany, and I began volunteering for Make-A-Wish in 1995 while we were trying to start a family. We felt strongly about giving our time and resources to an organization that focused on the well-being of children.
I became a father in a little different way than most people. Twice. My son, Campbell, and daughter, Bella, were adopted from Russia in 1999 and 2001.
Brittany and I traveled both times across the world to bring our children back to our home and the United States. They were both too young to remember (10 and 11 months old). As stressful and emotional the trips were for me and Brittany, the kids, other than being really hungry and having an ear infection, transitioned very well.
On our trips, we were exposed to children of all ages and various health conditions in the orphanages. It was very difficult to leave knowing that some children were going to grow up without a mother or father, or that the children with critical illnesses would never know the magic of an organization like Make-A-Wish.
I felt strongly about making sure that our children, from an early age, realized how fortunate our family was to be a healthy family and a family full of love, not just for each other, but also for others. The kid's first Make-A-Wish event was our chapter's community walk when they were toddlers. Since then, our kids have attended fundraising events, concerts and wish reveal parties and have helped host wish kids at CMA Music Fest in Nashville.
Evangelist Billy Graham said "The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith."
Make-A-Wish has not only given me the opportunity to give back to my community, but it has also allowed me to show Campbell and Bella the value of helping families and children that are facing adversity and need hope.
As a father and Make-A-Wish volunteer, that is one of the greatest gifts I can give my children.
Ben Hanback is a founding board member of Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee. He is a Resident Managing Director with AON, and has recently published his first book Never Leave The Locker Room of the Super Bowl: A Collection of Articles on Relationships and Leadership.