On April 29, 1980, Chris Greicius, a 7-year-old with leukemia, started an international organization with just one request ~ to be like his favorite officers, C.H.I.Ps, and "catch bad guys".
Chris was a huge fan of the series when his mother, Linda, reached out to friends in law enforcement to see if they might be able to let him see their police cars or motorcycles. She knew he had little time left and she wanted to make sure the boy had days of happiness in between his doctor visits and hospital stays.
Little did Linda know that her simple request would turn into a day that would start a worldwide movement -- to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
A day that no one would forget
Chris could not contain his excitement when he was told he was going to visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety offices. Upon arrival, he was taken for a ride in the helicopter. He was able to ride around and make "arrests" with some of the officers. He was even able to meet the police dogs in the unit.
And then it happened. Chris was provided an official uniform, complete with Smokey the Bear hat, and was formally recognized as the first and only honorary Arizona Department of Public Safety officer. He was provided a custom, battery-powered motorcycle and completed the test to be an official motorcycle officer with flying colors.
It was a perfect day, for everyone involved.
By the next day, Chris was back in the hospital. He had his DPS officer uniform on a hanger on the door so he could see it. He clutched his new motorcycle officer wings in his hand. And he spoke often of his wish day.
Three days later, he passed away.
The beginning of a foundation of wishes
Even in their grief, the men and women who came together for Chris' wish knew that they had accomplished something rare and amazing -- and they decided they didn't want it to end.
With support from their family, friends and local groups, the DPS officers came together to start the Chris Greicius Wish Society, the first name of Make-A-Wish. Donations came in from many sources, and soon the organized group could grant their first "official" wish as Make-A-Wish for Frank "Bopsy" Salazar, who wished to be a firefighter. His wish, like Chris', was pulled together by volunteers and the community and again, gave all who were involved the drive to do more.
Inspiring a Nation to help grant wishes
The following spring, in 1982, the television show "NBC Magazine" sends a reporter to Phoenix to do a story about this amazing new charity that’s granting wishes to children fighting for their lives.
As millions of viewers across the country see the piece, DPS telephone lines are jammed with calls from people who want to help grant wishes. The small group of volunteers who started with one simple wish now know that they have something magical happening and the national Make-A-Wish Foundation is incorporated in May of 1983.
Today, Make-A-Wish Arizona continues in Chris' legacy ~ granting the wishes of children in Arizona with life-threatening medical conditions but their vision is broader than the founders could have ever imagined. Today, the chapter grants an extraordinary 330 wishes each year, with a vision to reach every eligible child in Arizona.
In addition, Make-A-Wish America (the national corporate headquarters) and Make-A-Wish International (the international corporate headquarters) are both headquartered in Phoenix, supporting the more than 80 local chapters in states and countries worldwide.
You too can help! Find out the many ways that you can support Chris' legacy by supporting future Arizona wish kids.