Columbia Partners with Make-a-Wish Foundation

Published on Feb 16, 2016

By Neal Steichen (MFA ’17)

On January 11th, a young boy’s dream to be a superhero came true, thanks to the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois and a few of Columbia College Chicago’s own students. Costume Design students Annaliese Voci ('18) and Samantha Liska ('19) built a set of three monsters for Donovan’s very own movie: The Legend of Echo.

Donovan was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, and when his family went to Make-A-Wish Illinois, they came to Columbia for professional-level help in producing the film.

Melissa Hennessy, a Creative liaison at the Career Center, helped organize the development of the film by contacting Costume Shop Manager and Theatre faculty member Patricia Roeder to make three villains for the film, yak ninjas with telekinetic powers.

Roeder put two very able students, Annaliese Voci and Samantha Liska, to work on constructing costumes from scratch to be nemeses for Donovan’s hero, Echo. Echo, played by Donovan himself, studies martial arts, but discovers a super scream ability to stop these villains and save the people of Chicago. 

Annaliese Voci and Samantha Liska
Annaliese Voci ('18) and Samantha Liska ('19)

The production of the film consisted of three days of filming and almost a month of planning. 

“We were told when we began working with Make-A-Wish that this would be a professional film. Sam and I were on set for most of the filming to help with any costume issues,” explained Voci.

“Working in the Theatre Department at Columbia has taught me how to manage my time and meet deadlines, as well as giving me the tools I need to complete something special,” Voci commented.

The short film, The Legend of Echo, can be seen below:

“I am still in awe of the final cut,” Voci said. “To see the whole thing come together in such a cool way is really rewarding.” 

With such a fruitful experience for everyone involved in making Donovan’s wish come true, this is far from the end of The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s involvement with Columbia College Chicago. In fact, this isn’t the first time Columbia has worked with the famous charity.

“We began working with Make-A-Wish two years ago when we helped with a wish for a 14 year-old girl,” said Hennessy. “Her wish was to go to Fashion Week in Paris, which Make-A-Wish granted, but they wanted to go a step further and offer her a custom, one-of-a-kind dress, made by Alumna Amber Stevens.” 

“If Make-A-Wish has a need that Columbia students or alumni might participate in, we would be happy to help if we can,” said Hennessy. “We pride ourselves in educating our students in their respective industries, but we also encourage them to give back whenever possible.”