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Wild Wishes helps dreams come true

By Dawn Burleigh

Dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com

ORANGEFIELD — What started as a seed, has grown into a dream come true for Chester Moore Jr. as children are granted Wild Wishes through Kingdom Zoo.

Kingdom Zoo is part of the Children’s Kingdom Ministries and all of its outreach programs. The non-profit organization teaches children about Christ through His Creation, according to the official website. The focus is on spiritual and wildlife education through media, encounter-based programs and mentoring.

“My grandmother, late Ruby Pickard, founded an organization called My Wish Inc. in 1982 to grant wishes to terminally ill children in Southeast Texas. At eight years old, I accompanied her on that first wish where a little boy who simply asked for an American flag to fly over his home in Mauriceville,” Moore said. “That had a huge impact because at the time I would asked for something extravagant like a live elephant, or the entire Star Wars merchandise collection but here was a boy my age with leukemia wanting a humble flag. That event and being able to see her give so many children happiness birthed a heart for kids even while I was one.”

It was through that planted seed Wild Wishes began.

Meeting a child who suffered a great loss, Moore reached out and asked if she could meet any animal on the planet, what would it be? Her answer was a zebra.

Introducing the child to a zebra was the first Kingdom Zoo “Wild Wish”.

The organization has granted 10 such wishes to children in the area with more in the planning stages.

“We have seen families brought together through this program and have created powerful, positive memories for children who have dealt with suicide and other tragic loss in their families,” Moore said.

Emily Odom, 11, was recently named Kids Ambassador for the program. Odom is one of the children to receive a Wild Wish.

“My wish was with boa constrictors,” Odom said. “I like reptiles and stuff.”

Odom said her aunt signed her up for the program last year.

“It is really great,” Odom said. “I asked for my friend for a Wild Wish because she lost her dad two days before I did. It was fun to see they did it all for me. I want to encourage others.”

Pinehurst Mayor Joseph L. “Pete” Runnels said he was honored to attend the reunion.

“It is the most wonderful thing I have seen in my life,” Runnels said. “It is a shame more do not know about it.”

Kingdom Zoo is moving to a location in Pinehurst in March where future wishes will be held.

“This is a way to honor my grandmother who planted the seed,” Chester Moore, Jr. said. “It brings Christ to the children. It brightens their day and something to be excited about.”

The organization is about children for children.

“It is important to get kids involved,” Moore said. “Abigail and Rachel were serving for four years before Wild Wishes started.”

Abigail Rose, 12, is the official photographer for the organization.

With each wish costing approximately $1,000 to grant, the organization has started a crowd funding campaign at https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Wild-Wishes

“We hope to raise $10,000 for wishes this year,” Moore said.

If you know of a child that loves animals and might quality for a “Wild Wish”, e-mail chester@kingdomzoo.com.