The Makings of Make a Wish

It all started with Chris Grecicius

By Henley Holland, Shaylee King, and Lauren Penington


Make a Wish wasn’t always a huge organization. In fact, it didn’t even start off as one. It all began with one kid.

Make a Wish started with Chris Greicius, a seven year old in the state of Arizona who wanted nothing more than to be a police officer and catch the bad guys. Chris had been diagnosed with leukemia and the chances of survival weren’t good. U.S. Customs Agent Thomas Austin decided to take this kid’s wish upon himself. “I’ll rent the helicopter myself if I have to,” Austin said according to

Austin drew in others such as Officer Jim Eaves with his patrol car, Officer Frank Shankwitz with his motorcycle, and they all headed toward headquarters to meet the helicopter carrying Chris.

They set everything up. A smokey bear hat and uniform in his size made Chris the perfect little ranger, rearing to go. Shankwitz set up cones so Chris can drive the battery-powered motorcycle and earn his wings. However, Chris was rehospitalized the next day when they returned to give him the wings. He passed away on May 3 of 1980.

“He was only seven years, 269 days old when he died. But he taught me about being a man. Even though he was only a boy. I can tell you that because of meeting Chris, I am an entirely different man. Ron Cox said the same thing. He said he didn’t fear death anymore, because he knew Chris would be there waiting for him,” Austin said, according to

Chris was the catalyst that set everything off. From there the idea festered and grew into what we know today as the Make a Wish foundation. A wish is granted about every 38 minutes by the foundation.

In 2017, more than 285,000 children in the United States and its territories have benefited from the hope, strength and joy of experiencing their one, heartfelt wish.

“Tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters advance the Make-A-Wish vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness” the Make a Wish site claims. This is a common misconception among those who know of Make a Wish as most assume these kids must be terminally ill and dying to receive a wish. Make a Wish is an amazing organization who brings happiness to kids in the darkest times of their lives. Visit to learn more about them and their history.


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