Ambassador of Greece Mr. Vassilis Kaskarelis was host to a special send-off celebration for wish-teen Maureen Marsh and her family, at the Embassy of Greece, on World Wish Day, April 29.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation was celebrating its unifying message of hope, strength and joy by honoring wishes, including Marsh’s, in 41 countries around the globe on World Wish Day. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Maureen Marsh, 16, a high level volleyball player, will go to the Greek island of Santorini for her wish on July 7th with her family. She chose this wish because of her favorite movie “Mamma Mia”. She often watches the film to make her smile and boost her morale as she endures treatment for bone cancer.
On her arrival at the Embassy, Maureen was greeted by Ambassador Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Ioannis Vrailas, and with flowers by local Greek school children, and members of the Parathosi Dance Group. Ambassador Kaskarelis received Maureen and her family at his office. In a moving reception for Maureen, Mr. Kaskarelis addressing the audience said that she could not have chosen a better place to fulfill her dream, since Greece is a land of history and myths filled with stories of people overreaching, trying to surpass their potential, overcoming all sorts of difficulties. Greece, he said, is hosting this summer the Special Olympics, which offer individuals the opportunity to show what they are capable of, by stretching the horizons of their physical and intellectual abilities and pursuing excellence.
“Greek people are known for their “filoxenia”, their generous hospitality and for their desire to share with their guests all that they have, no matter how much or how little. Following your experience in Greece, I hope that you will become yourself one of our youngest Ambassadors, reaching out to all those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit my beautiful country. So, ‘καλό ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα’ (Kalo Taxidi stin Elllada), which means ‘have a good trip to Greece’ and may this become the experience of a lifetime for you and your family. In the meantime, I wish the best of luck to the Hokuleas, your volleyball team! I have been told that Hokulea refers to the bright star “Arcturus”, which passes directly over the islands of Hawai’i. You are the brightest star of them all, Maureen”, the Ambassador concluded.
Mr. Kaskarelis gave Maureen a book about the beautiful Aegean Sea to keep her company in her trip to Santorini, while Maureen and her family joined the Greek Dance Group performing traditional Greek island dances with live music.
In the course of the reception, the Mayor of Santorini Mr. Anastassios Zorzos communicated with Maureen via Skype and surprised her by announcing her as an honorary citizen of the Thyra (Santorini) municipality.
Meanwhile, against a rolling video backdrop depicting the beauty of Santorini, Maureen was greeted in a video-recorded message by the Greek Minister of Culture Mr. Pavlos Geroulanos, who said that “the Greeks feel extremely honored and excited” to host her and her family in Greece. In another video-recorded greeting to Maureen, US Ambassador to Greece Mr. Daniel Bennett Smith and his wife praised Santorini as “one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places on earth” and the Greek people as “extremely binding and hospitable”
The Ambassador and the Embassy staff as a whole bid Maureen farewell and wished her a wonderful time in Santorini.
Remarks by H.E. Ambassador of Greece Vassilis Kaskarelis
at a special send-off celebration for wish-teen Maureen Marsh and her family
on World Wish Day, April 29, 2011
Dear Maureen,‘Καλημέρα’ (kalimera), as we say in Greek, which means Good Morning!!It is a great pleasure for me to host you and your family here today, at the Greek Embassy in Washington, in view of your trip in Greece in just a few weeks.I am very proud that your wish is to visit our country and live your dream in Santorini with your family. Many people would agree with me that you could not have chosen a better place. I cannot praise enough the “Make-a-Wish” Foundation for making your dream, and so many other children’s dreams, come true. The Foundation, its staff and its volunteers represent all that is good and kind about human nature and their work is absolutely extraordinary.
Greece’s history and myths are filled with stories of people overreaching, trying to surpass their potential, overcoming all sorts of difficulties in order to fulfill their dreams. As you can see from the pictures on the wall, this summer, Greece will be hosting the Special Olympics, which offer individuals the opportunity to show what they are capable of, by stretching the horizons of their physical and intellectual abilities and pursuing excellence.Greece was the land of Ulysses, who finally reached home after encountering and overcoming countless perils and obstacles. Your own odyssey, Maureen, and your triumph over the adversities of your journey, are a source of inspiration to us all. You absolutely deserve the chance to live your own fairy tale in Santorini.