Long Beach teen raises money for Make-A-Wish Foundation after pair of lifesaving surgeries
A Long Beach teenager who recovered from two lifesaving surgeries is raising money for other children who are critically ill.
Masha Benitez is going door to door asking business owners to donate gift certificates and baskets to help her raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When she was just 3, she had open-heart surgery. In May 2022, she had a double lung transplant.
Last week, Benitez was hospitalized for an infection, but her mother Michele Quigley says all her daughter could think about were the sick children whose wishes needed to be granted.
"She said, 'I don't want to disappoint the children,'" Quigley says.
Now Benitez, 19, is back to her effort to help other children in need.
"I want to do it, it doesn't feel like a job for me," Benitez says.
She says after her open-heart surgery, she was the recipient of a wish to go to Disney - a trip she says she will never forget.
Each wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation costs around $10,000.
Benitez has raised over $138,000 in the past 12 years to make other kids' dreams come true.
Local store owners say they are happy to help the teen in her efforts.
"Masha works so hard for this," said the owners of Frippery Gift Shop. "She saves and helps so many children."
The donated baskets will be raffled off at the Bright Eye Beer Company in Long Beach on Sunday ahead of the Polar Plunge.
Benitez hopes to raise $40,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.