HUBBARD - Making a difference takes many forms. For a Hubbard brother and sister, it is a means of showing gratitude for the gift of life itself.
Ricky and Mackenzie Pasco both have battled common variable immunodeficiency - CVID - an immune deficiency, since birth. They since have become champions for other children with life-threatening diseases, raising thousands with their Ricky Mack Giving Back fundraiser for Make-A-Wish.
This year, they are coordinating the fundraiser with the annual Make A Difference Day, a day of volunteerism and caring.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Siblings Mackenzie, 10, and Ricky Pasco, 14, seated, are coordinating the Ricky Mack Giving Back fundraiser. Special to the Tribune Chronicle
The children said they are excited to make the project part of Make A Difference Day.
"It'll definitely be more special, and it'll get more people involved I would hope,'' Ricky, 14, said Saturday. ''The more money we'd raise, the more kids we'd send (on wishes).''
The brother-sister team have sent two local children and their families on all-costs paid trips to Disney World through Make-A-Wish.
To register or find projects, or for other details, log onto www.tribtoday.com, scroll down the page and click on the Make A Difference Day link on the left.
Ricky and Mackenzie, 10, had their wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of NorthEast Ohio in 2009 and 2010. And since 2009, the two have worked to give back to other children. The past three years, they began a monthlong fund drive near the end of September and, with the help of Hubbard residents, raised more than $18,300.
"We love doing it,'' Ricky said. ''It brings the community closer together, and it helps the children, which is the biggest thing, to send them on their wishes, wherever they want to go, whoever they want to meet, and it gives them hope and strength.''
Mackenzie said, ''I feel good and I just want wishes to come true, and I just want kids to be happy, like I was (with my wish), with their family.''
This year's event has already begun, with fliers and collection centers at Cortland Bank's Hubbard branch and Devine's Shop'n'Save. Their annual event at Fat's Village Tavern on North Main Street is set for Oct. 16, with contests, gift baskets and special guests.
Last year, the team raised $6,300 and are hoping to break it. Fulfilling one child's wish costs a minimum of $6,000, Kim Pasco said.
They will be presenting every dollar they raise this year to the Make-A-Wish Foundation during the Make A Difference Day picnic on Oct. 27 at the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
The siblings' battle with CVID limits interactions that would be normal for most children. Ricky has been home-schooled because of concern over injuries and germs, although he has returned to public school this year as a freshman at Hubbard High School.
Their father, Rick Pasco, said people's immune systems usually are made up of four parts, but Ricky and Mackenzie only have the first two. That leaves their bodies incapable of fighting off diseases. They take plasma infusion treatments once a week at Akron Children's Hospital.
Ricky and Mackenzie are ambassadors for the Plasma Center in Akron, where they speak to donors on behalf of all plasma recipients and thank them for donating their plasma and saving their lives.
They also attend Make-A-Wish Events held in the area and have even taken to the radio waves to support the Season of Wishes and have rallied their entire school, with the help of the librarian, to write letters to Santa Claus for the Macy's "Believe" Campaign.
They go through it all with the motto "Our only wish is to grant a wish."
Ricky and Mackenzie also were chosen to be Tribune Chronicle Community Stars for 2012 for their work with Make-A-Wish. They received commendations from Gov. John Kasich, state representatives, the City of Warren, Trumbull County commissioners, U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan and 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Diane Grendell.
"I am very proud of both of them, for giving of themselves selflessly, all in the name of love," Kim Pasco said. "At their young age, they are a shining example of 'Do unto others' and 'Give of yourselves'."
Nationally, Make A Difference is marking its 22nd year. The national program is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine and the Hands-On Network, and supported by Newman's Own food company.
The Tribune Chronicle sponsors the local event.
The newspaper's sponsorship has twice been recognized through national awards, which have brought in $20,000 in awards to be used for further projects.
In 2004, USA Weekend Magazine recognized 2003's event as one of the nation's best and presented the Tribune with $10,000. In 2007, the Tribune received the $10,000 Encore Award for a past national winner that increased its efforts in a subsequent year.
In both cases, the awards were matched by the Trumbull 100, which brought the total awards to $40,000.
''The money has been reinvested into the community in the form of grants to purchase supplies to complete projects,'' Sue Shafer, Tribune Chronicle community events coordinator, said.
The Tribune is no longer eligible for national awards, but Shafer said local volunteers should register their projects with ServeOhio.org so they may be considered for the national prize for groups.
Shafer said she is confident the Pascos' project could be another big winner in the national spotlight.
"I really think their project, Ricky Mack Giving Back, could be a top 10 national winner,'' she said.