A gala celebration for local heroes

PHILADELPHIA - November 19, 2011

The applause was well deserved for anyone who crossed the stage Saturday night at the "Wish Upon a Hero Foundation" Awards Gala at the Loews Philadelphia hotel.

Ally Haas, from Hainesport, N.J., decided for her 9th birthday a few months ago that instead of receiving gifts, she wanted to give back.

"Instead of presents people would give money and then I would use the money to help kids in need that have cancer or something," said Ally Haas.

Ally and several others from across the country were recognized for their service in their communities by the "Wish Upon a Hero Foundation".

The Voorhees, N.J. non-profit was set up in 2007 to help every day people become heroes by granting a wish someone submitted on the website.

"Everyone should grant a wish once, because when you do and you realize when you touch a life, what type of emotion that brings, you'll do it a thousand times.

The effort has inspired so many including NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who is the group's Wish Ambassador.

"When you think about what "Wish Upon a Hero" does and how it helps people in all areas of life, and it affects people in a positive way, how could you not be excited for something like this," said Dan Marino.

Wish upon a Hero also granted some wishes and delivered a few surprises by giving checks as much as $5,000 to their honorees.

And Ally was stunned when the group gave her $1,000 to spend however she wants. Her older brother was very proud.

"She's a really nice girl to give up her presents," said Patrick Haas.

Ally is already planning to raise money again for sick children on her 10th birthday.

"It just feels nice to help others," said Ally.

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