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Make-A-Wish event toasts kids’ dreams

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Colton Montoya poses with his younger brother Mykael. Colton was the recipient of a Make-A-Wish trip after treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (Courtesy of Make-A-Wish New Mexico)

Colton Montoya poses with his younger brother Mykael. Colton was the recipient of a Make-A-Wish trip after treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (Courtesy of Make-A-Wish New Mexico)

Because of Make-A-Wish New Mexico, kids like Colton Montoya of Anthony, N.M., have new hopes and dreams to help them through life-threatening illnesses.

Colton, now 11, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma three years ago. At the end of his treatment in 2012, Make-A-Wish New Mexico flew him and his family to Wyoming to participate in a dinosaur fossil dig, his father Victor Ray Montoya explains.

“He’s always wanted to be a paleontologist. It gave him the strength to keep moving forward in his path,” Montoya says of the trip. He adds that the trip was a welcome respite for him, his wife and their younger son: “I was powerless as a father do anything about the pain he went through. He fought like a champ, but it was hard.”

Kathryn Anderson, development director of the wish-granting organization, says Colton is a wish ambassador for the upcoming Wine & Wishes event at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.

“We thought it was a perfect match for Colton,” Anderson says. “His mom says after the wish he’s been on fire for dinosaurs.”

The goal of the second annual event is to raise enough money to fund 10 children’s wishes. Each wish granted to a child with a life-threatening medical condition costs about $5,000. Last year the first wine-tasting event that also features gourmet appetizers raised about $35,000 or enough for seven children’s wishes.

Make-A-Wish New Mexico, incorporated in 1986, has granted more than 1,600 wishes and plans to grant 130 wishes this year, according to the website, newmexico.wish.org.

The national nonprofit organization, of which New Mexico is part, grew out of one little boy’s wish to be a police officer in Arizona. Chris Greicius, then 7 years old, died of leukemia about a week later, but a band of officers made his wish to be a cop come true. Granting those kinds of wishes is what the organization has been doing ever since, Anderson says.

Colton Montoya enjoys his time on a dinosaur fossil dig in Wyoming, his wish granted from Make-A-Wish New Mexico. (Courtesy of Make-A-Wish New Mexico)

Colton Montoya enjoys his time on a dinosaur fossil dig in Wyoming, his wish granted from Make-A-Wish New Mexico. (Courtesy of Make-A-Wish New Mexico)

“The experience adds strength to them in their battles with their illnesses,” Anderson says. “It’s a difficult thing to measure, but we find the family’s emotional health has changed drastically after a wish. It helps with perspective. The families express such incredible gratitude.”

She says the Wine & Wishes event will feature tasting of fine wines, heavy hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and a live and silent auction for travel packages, restaurant gift certificates and other wine-tasting opportunities.

The tasting wine list, donated by an anonymous wine distributor, includes Liberty School Cuvee, Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon, 900 Grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Cosentino Chardonnay. More than 100 other bottles of wine, wrapped to disguise the labels and valued between $25 to $300 each, are part of a wine pull, where participates pay $25 to take their chances and choose a bottle, she says.

The tasting menu for food from Chopping Block Catering includes tempura beer-battered asparagus with lemon aioli, seared chicken satay drizzled with peanut sauce, pork tapas, eggrolls with homemade plum papaya dipping sauce, tiger shrimp, crudites with babaganoush and s’mores and mini cakes.

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