Honoree Headshot

Martino Cartier

Founder and CEO
Wigs & Wishes by Martino Cartier

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 2010
Industry: Philanthropy

In 1975, an unwed, pregnant Egyptian woman escaped her country, landed on Ellis Island and became a United States citizen. Soon after, a child was born, a first-generation Egyptian American who was placed in an orphanage. Six months later, a loving American family adopted him. “You are special,” he was told as a little boy. “We chose you,” said his forever mom. That boy, although bullied and often depressed as a child, faced many hardships, but he believed God had a plan.

Today, that boy — Martino Cartier — runs Wigs & Wishes, giving hope and joy to cancer patients and making a real, positive difference in the world. His work has touched more than one million cancer patients worldwide in the last decade.

Cartier’s personal motto matches the mission of his nonprofit: “If you don’t know how to give, you don’t know how to live.”

Wigs & Wishes is devoted to providing wigs and granting wishes to those battling cancer, and the organization turns away no one in need. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when other organizations cut back operations, Wigs & Wishes forged ahead and increased capacity to meet the growing need. It recently launched Zoo Hoo, a petting zoo featuring rescue animals where kids battling cancer can have fun and feel free.

The nonprofit is supported by salons and stylists throughout the world that empower women by providing them with complimentary services that allow them for a brief moment to forget about their cancer fight. Wishes are granted to children with cancer to bring smiles to their faces.

In the next five years, Wigs & Wishes and Zoo Hoo will expand services. The Zoo Hoo ranch, where Cartier resides, will be a sanctuary for women and children battling cancer. A salon will be built on the property in summer 2022 with space for wig consultations. Some of the children’s wishes the organization has fulfilled include swearing in a child as a Washington Township police officer; petting a live unicorn; singing and dancing with Disney princesses; and meetings with Justin Bieber, Shaquille O’Neal, Taylor Swift, Adam Sandler and more.

The NAACP named Cartier Game Changer of the year in 2021. Most recently, Cartier was nominated for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award. Previous winners include Presidents Ronald Reagan and Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks.

“All of Martino Cartier’s awards and accomplishments have the common denominator of helping humanity,” his team said.

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Honoree fun fact

Martino has a larger than life personality! Many people see an outward display of confidence, but he describes himself as shy and timid on the inside.

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