Posted by: charityinfo | November 2, 2011

The Boy Whose Wish Changed the World

Seven year-old Christopher Greicis wanted nothing more than to become a policeman. In response to this, United States Customs Officer Tommy Austin decided to make Chris’s dream come true and set up a day wherein Chris was sworn in as an honorary Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer complete with a custom uniform and hat, squad car rides, and a special motorcycle proficiency test so that he would have some wings for his uniform. Interestingly, Chris’s motorcycle was battery-powered. On May 2, 1980, the day after he became an honorary DPS officer, Chris made sure his uniform and hat were in a special place near his hospital bed so he could see them all the time. Sadly, Chris who was being treated for leukemia passed away on May 3, 1980.

Soon afterward, Chris’s mother, Linda Bergendahl-Pauling, along with Frank Shankwitz and Scott Stahl founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help other children with life threatening medical conditions have a happy experience in the midst of an otherwise painful time. The Foundation’s first official “wish kid” was Frank Salazar, a boy who wanted to be a fireman. In addition to his time with the fire department, the granting of Frank’s wish included a special trip to Disneyland. Over the years, the relationship between the Foundation and the Disney Company has flourished and in August 2005, Christian Marlowe became the 50,000th child whose Disney theme park wish has come true.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted 212,922 wishes since its inception in November of 1980. After a child has been referred, the Foundation contacts his or her treating physician to determine if he or she falls within the eligibility requirements. Then, the child is contacted by a volunteer from the Foundation so that his or her true wish, the one that would make the child happiest, can be fulfilled. The Foundation works with the child’s parents and treating physician to determine the best possible time for the wish to be granted.

What began as a dream to make one little boy’s dream come true has spread to forty eight countries across the world. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, no matter where it is, depends on support from fundraisers and donors; but above all else, the Foundation thrives on the wishes of children in need of nothing more than a little bit of happiness.

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