Your location is set to Tonbridge
Published: 00:01, 03 February 2016
From performing a duet with Will Young to visiting Father Christmas in Lapland, Starlight Children's Foundation always does its best to brighten the lives of children battling serious illness.
That's why KentOnline and KMTV have chosen this life-changing charity to support this year.
The wish-granting organisation allows children going through serious and terminal illnesses to fulfil their wildest dreams, from meeting famous footballers, to going on an African safari, or becoming a princess for a day at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
VIDEO: Starlight grants wishes for children with life-changing illnesses
Since the charity started it has helped almost 500 children from Kent and there are currently around 100 wishes in the process of being granted for young people in the county.
Bianca Nicholas, from Kent, who works on the fundraising team for the charity, got involved with Starlight when she was 15 because she has cystic fibrosis.
“I had a wish granted which was to be a pop star for the day and I had an amazing time.
“I love singing and I find it helps keep my lungs healthy and exercises them and my wish was to sing live in front of a big audience and record my own song.
“Starlight took me to a studio, I got to have the star treatment, I went in a limo and felt very special.
“I recorded a song and Starlight said ‘how would you like to perform a duet with Will Young at the Starlight ball?’ so obviously I said yes!”
Any child from the age of four to 18 with a life-threatening or life-changing illness can be referred to the charity to have their wish granted.
Starlight also provides the children with entertainment, laughter and distraction in hospital wards and the hospice.
Miss Nicholas added: “There are so many children in Kent with serious and terminal illnesses that you don’t realise, I’m always surprised when I walk past the children’s ward how many children are in there.
“You just don’t realise unless you’re part of that world where you’ve got an ill child or you’re ill yourself you don’t realise how many people are out there.
“I think it’s really important for children to have a wish because it gives them something to look forward to when their life is constantly treatments and tablets and blood tests and all sorts of horrible treatments they go through.
“At a time where there life is so controlled by hospitals it gives them some control, they pick what their wish is and they get to look forward to it, it gives them something to be positive about.
Neil Swan, chief executive of Starlight Children's Foundation, said: "It's hugely important to Starlight to raise awareness about what we do in Kent and raise funds to help the poorly children."
To donate to the charity or to nominate a child to have their wish granted, visit www.starlight.org.uk.
What is The Starlight Children's Foundation?
Starlight was started by British actress Emma Samms and her cousin Peter Samuelson in 1986.
When Emma was nine, her younger brother Jamie became ill with aplastic anaemia, at that time an incurable illness.
Just few months later he lost his battle against the disease, a loss that had a devastating effect on her family.
As an adult, Emma often visited seriously ill children in hospital, and one day met a young boy called Sean, who was seriously ill with a brain tumour.
Sean told Emma that his dream was to visit Disneyland, and Emma realised she could fundraise and make his dream come true.
Emma said: “For me, it wasn’t just the look of pure joy and excitement on Sean’s face, but the look on his mum’s face as she watched Sean having the time of his life.”
The experience inspired Emma to found Starlight, in order to help other seriously and terminally ill children and their families enjoy the wish of a lifetime, no matter what the future holds.
The charity now supports children with all sorts of illnesses, including leukaemia and other cancers, heart disease, cystic fibrosis and other genetic conditions, as well as more routine childhood illnesses and accidents.
Starlight Children's Foundation - the facts
How you can help
Starlight is entirely dependent on the generosity of people and companies - the foundation does not receive funding from the government or the National Lottery, but there are many ways people can help: