Friends, family and members of Geneseo’s Greek life piled into the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on Sunday March 31 for the ninth annual Anna’s Ball fundraiser. Anna’s Ball is a formal mocktail party and the official philanthropic project of the Inter Greek Council hosted in order to raise money for Anna’s Wish Inc.
Anna’s Wish is a charity created in 2010 by Jeff and Jessie McKinney, both Geneseo graduates, to honor the memory of their daughter Anna McKinney. Anna passed away on Jan. 2, 2010 at the age of five after a long battle with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Donations to the charity provide gifts, movie tickets, birthday parties, museum passes and any other pick-me-ups for children with cancer. These are things that families often cannot purchase on their own due to the financial struggles that accompany extensive medical bills for sick children.
The IGC chose to adopt this charity as their philanthropy in the spring of 2010 for the meaningful cause behind it. Jeff McKinney was also a member of a fraternal organization during his time at Geneseo.
The fundraiser offered a buffet style dinner provided by Campus Auxiliary Services and Impressions Catering. Talented groups including Between the Lines, Emmelodics, slàinte Irish Dance and Bhangra served as entertainment for the event.
The two a cappella groups performed beautifully executed songs and mashups while the dance groups were lively, energetic and fun.
At the end of the night, the organization held a giveaway for gift baskets assembled by different Greek organizations. There were baskets with self-care necessities, chocolate, snacks and even a “cat lovers” basket.
Following the festivities, Jeff McKinney gave an extremely touching speech about his daughter Anna and the charity founded to commemorate her. He offered anecdotes about Anna’s inspiring character and stories illustrating the impact that Anna’s Wish has had on families’ lives.
Jeff McKinney described his daughter as kind, gracious and an all-around great kid. He described how Anna always wanted to help other children and always made other kids smile. Anna’s Wish came to fruition to continue on her legacy of spreading happiness.
“We wanted to give the extra stuff, things that people could do as a family,” Jeff McKinney said. “Having a kid with cancer is a 24-hour a day job. To have [time], even if its three seconds, to smile and enjoy being a family, that’s what we want to provide.”
McKinney’s made clear that these gifts and good deeds have added up to create significant impacts on people’s lives. They offer families going through a very difficult time comfort and the possibility to find joy in the little things again.
“You cannot go through life thinking ‘what if.’ It’s a horrible existence,” McKinney said. “You need to take heed and enjoy what you have here. Cherish every moment you have. Enjoy what has been offered to you. You never know what’s going to happen.”
The IGC appreciates every contribution made to Anna’s Wish on their behalf. To donate, visit IGC’s online portal, or you can visit the charity’s website www.annaswish.org for more information.