In 1980, everyone in Phoenix, Arizona who knew seven-year-old Chris Greicius knew he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up. Concerned that Chris’ diagnosis with leukemia might prevent that dream from coming true, officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety decided to create that dream for him. They pulled together people from all over Phoenix to give Chris the experience of being an Arizona State Trooper.
Chris flew helicopter patrol, sat on a motorcycle and earned his merit wings by successfully maneuvering a motorcycle maze with his own small motorized motorcycle, which he used instead of a wheelchair. A uniform was designed to fit, which was Chris’ most prized possession. His delight and appreciation, and that of all who helped make this wish come true, inspired the group to create the Make-A-Wish Foundation®.
Since then, more than 190,000 wishes have been granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Today the Make-A-Wish Foundation is the largest wish-granting charity in the world, with 64 chapters across the United States and its territories, and 34 international affiliates on five continents.
The Connecticut Chapter received its charter in 1986. The Chapter serves the entire state of Connecticut. A volunteer Board of Directors and the staff share one common goal – to ensure that every child living in Connecticut who qualifies for Make-A-Wish® services receives his or her fondest wish.
By 1982, the Make-A-Wish Foundation had granted a total of eight wishes to children in the Phoenix area when it caught the attention of “NBC Magazine,” a national news program. The story began with the account of Chris’ wish and featured Linda Bergendahl-Pauling and Tommy Austin sharing how Chris’ dream came true. The reporter highlighted the beginnings of the Foundation and how a few children and their families were delighted by the worry-free wish experiences. Suddenly, millions of people saw how the power of a wish impacts children.
On May 13, 1983, a year after NBC’s story, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America was officially incorporated, six official Make-A-Wish chapters were operating around the country, and 22 more were established the following year.
In 2000, 20 years after Chris donned his police uniform, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted its 80,000th wish to children with life-threatening medical conditions. To date, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has grown to 64 different chapters and has granted over 200,000 wishes across the United States and its territories.