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New Canaan Boy Aims to Help Grant Kids' Wishes

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Whether it’s meeting a favorite athlete or taking the trip of a lifetime, children with life-threatening illnesses deserve a chance to enjoy some smiles, says New Canaan's Hayden Critchrell.

“I want people to notice and help out, too,” said Hayden, 10, a fourth-grader at New Canaan Country School. “These kids are going through rough times.”

Hayden is doing his part to help wishes come true. He is running his own campaign to raise $8,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut.

So far, Hayden has collected more than $3,800 since February, receiving donations from parents of New Canaan youth lacrosse players, going door-to-door to visit his neighbors and even using his allowance to bolster the account. The goal, which he hopes to reach by the end of the month, is the average cost Make-A-Wish has to fulfill a wish.

Hayden said he was inspired by seeing stories of Make-A-Wish children, including Andrew Nitirouth, a 19-year-old lacrosse player who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago and then lost mobility in the right arm and leg in an allergic reaction to chemotherapy. Hayden also plays lacrosse and participates in tae kwon do.

“This is really a big accomplishment,” said Hayden. “To make $1,000 just makes me happy. I’m guessing the kids in the hospital beds are happy, too, because they know that an effort was put in and they can now take this money and do something useful with it.”  

“That’s how he’s always been, since he was a toddler,” said his mom Reaney. “He’s always been looking to help.”  

Although he has taken charge in trying to grant a wish, Hayden said he’s not taking all of the credit. He’s happy the community has helped and hopes people will continue to be generous. “I can’t (say I did it myself) when generous people have chipped in,” he said. “Without the donations, I would have $25.”

This summer, Hayden and other youth lacrosse players from Connecticut will travel and play games in an effort to raise money for the foundation.

To help Hayden’s effort, visit his Lacrosse For Wishes Make-A-Wish donation page.

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