Forty-years after granting the wish of a terminally-ill 7-year-old Scottsdale boy, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was honored by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane last week.
Lane unveiled a sign that read “Make-A-Wish Way” on the corner of 78th Street and Thomas Road, next to The Parsons Wish House that houses Make-A-Wish Arizona.
Lane also declared Sept. 8, 2020, Make-A-Wish day in Scottsdale.
The parent organization, headquartered in Phoenix, has more than 60 local chapters across the United States, and over 40 more around the world.
It helps terminally ill children and their families by working to arrange that their wishes come true. Make-A-Wish has enabled some children to travel to Disneyworld, act out their wishes to be first responders and even meet astronauts.
Last week’s event marked the anniversary of the first impromptu wish granted to a child that then inspired a group of local Valley residents to start the foundation in earnest.
On April 29, 1980, a wish was granted to Chris Greicius, who had leukemia.
Chris told his mother, Linda Pauling, that he wanted to be a police officer, and she shared that wish with a friend in law enforcement, who helped organize a special day for the mother and son.
A Department of Public Safety helicopter picked up Chris and his mother from the hospital and took them to the DPS headquarters for a tour. He was then made the first honorary DPS Officer and received a DPS badge and helmet that day.
Days later, the officers went over to Chris’s home and presented him with a custom-made DPS uniform. Greicius “patrolled” the streets of Scottsdale on a toy bike.
The little boy passed away days later but his legacy continues today –thanks to the organization started by his mother and others involved in making that first wish come true.
Since that time, the Make-A-Wish foundation has worked over the years to help over 300,000 critically ill children fulfill their wishes.
Pauling, co-founder and volunteer for Make-A-Wish, still lives in Scottsdale.
“That wish saved my life,” she said. “This foundation is a dream come true; they’re not asking for anything in return. They just want to help.”
Pauling said that on the day her son’s wish was granted, he wasn’t sick.
“Wishes bring hope to these terminally ill children,” she said.
Make-A-Wish has continued to make those wishes come true this year despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, said Hollie Costello, the vice president of public relations and marketing.
Because of COVID-19, the foundation had to cancel their biggest fundraiser of the year, she said.
“COVID has severely changed how we raise funds, but the wishes granted during the pandemic have been more impactful than ever,” Costello said.
That sentiment was shared by Brooklynn Doren, an Arizona State University sophomore who volunteers with Make-A-Wish through a partnership with the Chi Omega sorority.
“Make-A-Wish is one of the reasons I joined Chi Omega,” Doren said. “It raises the kids’ morale so much that they are able to overcome these (illnesses).”
According to Costello, just last weekend Make-A-Wish granted a little boy’s simple desire.
A play set was installed in his backyard because the pandemic has made it impossible for him to go to the park or play with friends. He now has a playground in the comfort of his home.
“Though this is small, it changed this little boy’s life,” Costello said.