HELENA – The Montana Hope Project is working to normalize children with illnesses and raise money for their wish granting program all at the same time.

MHP is selling a new, customized book made to raise money for the program. Entitled “Smiles for Miles,” the book tells the fictional story of Jack, a young boy in a wheelchair. Jack is visited by the Montana Hope Project who inform him that they grant wishes and Jack has his wish come true.

Montana Hope Project President and Sergeant Glen Barcus said the book serves many purposes, in addition to raising money.

“The lives these children live and their families live – it’s something more than most of us will ever grasp or really have an idea or feel for,” Barcus said.

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Barcus said he hopes children – including his own – take away an important message from the book. Barcus doesn’t want kids to see a child in a wheelchair or a child living with a critical illness as something odd or strange.

“They’re all just kids. They’re all just little people,” Barcus said.

So far, the Montana Hope Project has granted over 470 wishes to critically ill children in Montana since it was founded in 1984. The number of wishes granted rises every year, and so too does the cost to make those wishes come true.

“The average cost of a wish for us is $8,900, and that goes up every day with the rising costs of everything,” Barcus said.

The book, which is the brain child of a small publishing company on the east coast, will cost $10 with proceeds going to the organization to help fund those wishes.

The books are available online at www.montanahope.org or by visiting your local MHP district office.