Uncle John’s Celebrity Shaming Department: Wish Denied

September 20, 2013

Even much-loathed celebrities like Donald Trump and Paris Hilton have gone out of their way to fulfill the request of sick or dying children who wanted to meet them. Here are the surprising stories of famous people and companies who said no to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (and other similar charities).

Ina Garten

Garten hosts the Food Network show Barefoot Contessa, in addition to writing six bestselling cookbooks. In 2010, the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted Garten on behalf of six-year-old leukemia patient Enzo Pereda, who wanted nothing more than to spend a few hours cooking with the celebrity chef. But Garten turned him down. In 2011, the Foundation asked Garten again. Again, she turned them down. After the news was made public, Garten apologized, and a representative said it was an oversight, and that Garten receives “100 requests a month to support charitable causes,” and can’t possibly fulfill them all. After the incident became a publicity nightmare, Garten reached out to Pereda’s family, and had suddenly found time in her busy schedule to cook with the sick child. No thanks, said Pereda and Make-A-Wish—they were working on fulfilling Enzo’s #2 wish: to swim with dolphins.

Roland Martin

Martin is the longtime host of his own fishing show, Fishing With Roland Martin. He’s also one of the biggest stars ever in competitive bass fishing, winning more than 19 tournaments and coming in second-place a record 20 times. His career winnings: more than $1 million (and a lot of giant fish). He’s a celebrity to outdoors enthusiasts, and has many fans, including a 14-year-old boy named Chris Mathis. In 1991, Mathis, who had an inoperable brain tumor, made a request through Dream Makers Inc. to spend a day bass fishing with Martin. In a first for the charity, Martin turned them down. Martin later blamed a “communications mix-up,” saying that Dream Makers contacted the wrong office (“other people make my schedule”) and someone there refused on his behalf. But Martin also told reporters that Dream Makers “considered it a personal insult that I didn’t drop my life and do everything for the kid,” which Martin later said was taken out of context. The boy went fishing with pro-bass fisher Orlando Wilson instead.

Games Workshop

Games Workshop is a British company that both makes and sells “tabletop strategy games” involving cards and dice, such as Warhammer and The Lord of the Rings—both are similar in play to Dungeons and Dragons. One kid was such a big fan of GW’s products that he reportedly asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to arrange a visit to the company’s offices and factory in Nottingham to see how his favorite games were created. No dice, said Games Workshop. Reason: Even though individual stores are allowed to host charity events and donate to important causes, the corporate side of the company, amazingly, has a “no charity” policy.