Make-A-Wish Israel was founded by Denise Bar-Aharon and her husband in 1996. Since then, more than 4,000 wishes have been granted by Make-A-Wish Israel.
In 2015, Denise commissioned scientific research which proved that “granting the one true wish of a child with a critical illness can actually transform their lives.”
The research was done by Dr. Tal Ben Shahar and Dr. Anat Shoshani at IDC Herzliya, and has since been translated into seven languages.
Denise is also a sculptor and was commissioned by the city of Ra’anana in 2001 to make her first public sculpture, called “Three Wishes.” It signifies the three sides of a woman: family and love, philanthropy, and professional satisfaction.
We caught up with Denise to get to know her better.
IZZY: Denise, what is your background?
Denise: I grew up in California, but at the very young age of 7 I moved to Israel with my family. We made Aliyah. I lived on Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra, and it was a wonderful part of my childhood.
I went to Tel Aviv University’s overseas program in 1980 and met by best friends for life. I went on to finish my degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology and opened up a multimillion dollar fashion agency that ran for 25 years.
IZZY: What inspired you to start Make-A-Wish Israel?
Denise: I co-founded Make-A-Wish with my husband in the loving honor of my brother David Spero, who passed away at the young age of 29 while doing his Master’s degree at Hebrew University.
IZZY: Why did you move back to Israel?
Denise: Very simple — Israel has a heartbeat. I feel that I am around same-minded people and that there is more meaning to my life here.