Our History

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. In the U.S. and its territories, a wish is granted every 34 minutes. A wish can be that spark that helps these children believe that anything is possible and gives them the strength to fight harder against their illnesses. This one belief guides us and inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve. 

Our History

For children diagnosed with critical illnesses, a wish come true can be a crucial turning point in their lives. A wish can be that spark that helps these children believe that anything is possible and gives them the strength to fight harder against their illnesses. This impact is why we are driven to make every one of these wishes come true. 

Chris in uniform

Chris Greicius, 1980

How It All Started: Chris' Wish 

Make-A-Wish traces its inspiration to Christopher James Greicius, an energetic 7-year-old boy battling leukemia who wishes to be a police officer. In 1980, his Phoenix community came together to make his wish come true. Little did Chris know that his wish would create a movement that would transform millions of lives.  

Today, Make-A-Wish has granted hundreds of thousands of life-changing wishes to children battling critical illnesses. Wishes that give families hope through dark times, strength to persevere and experiences that forever change their lives.  

Thank you to his mother, Linda Pauling, the Greicius family and the founders for their tireless dedication to our mission.

 

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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. And because of meeting him, I'm an entirely different man.
Tommy Austin
Make-A-Wish co-founder
Bopsy

Bopsy Salazar, 1981

The First Wish Kid

Frank "Bopsy" Salazar is the first official Make-A-Wish kid. He's 7 and has leukemia—just like Chris. So, the Phoenix Fire Department gives Bopsy an experience like Chris’; he becomes a member of the Engine 9 crew. Since the first wish is also the first Disney wish, the Anaheim Fire Department picks up the baton, taking Bopsy and his family around Southern California. 

 

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As his mother, it was very meaningful to me that people who didn’t know us stepped forward to be in Bopsy’s life.
Nance Octaviana Trujillo
Bopsy's mother
This is Make-A-Wish® Video
It's been more than 30 years since my son Chris received his wish, and I am still amazed and inspired how one little boy's dream to be a policeman has touched the lives of so many
Linda Pauling
Chris Greicius' mother & Make-A-Wish co-founder

Timeline

For nearly 40 years, the Make-A-Wish has been granting life-changing wishes for children and families. 

1980: Chris Greicius’ wish to be a police officer is granted. His wish inspires the creation of Make-A-Wish.

1981: Make-A-Wish grants its first official wish to Frank "Bopsy" Salazar. NBC Magazine story about Make-A-Wish leads to the formation of chapters in the U.S.

1983: Make-A-Wish Foundation of America is incorporated. President Ronald Reagan grants the first presidential wish to Amy.

1985: The “Stephanie in the Snow” video inspires the establishment of more chapters.

1988: Reader’s Digest article, “They Bring Joy to Sick Kids,” generates international awareness of Make-A-Wish.

1990: Make-A-Wish celebrates 10th birthday and 10,000 wishes granted. Make-A-Wish receives the Citation for Volunteer Action Award from President George H.W. Bush

1993: Make-A-Wish International is formed to serve countries outside of the U.S.

1996: The Make-A-Wish website, wish.org, goes live.

2000: Make-A-Wish now serves every community in the U.S. Wishbone logo is replaced with a swirl and star logo. Over 75,000 wishes granted.

2004: Make-A-Wish selected as one of “America’s Greatest Brands.”

2010: First World Wish Day is celebrated around the world. Over 198,000 wishes granted.

2011: Make-A-Wish commissions Wish Impact Study to assess the physical and emotional impact of wishes.

2018: Make-A-Wish unveils brand refresh and establishes a permanent headquarters.

 

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Local and Global Structure     

Make-A-Wish America

Make-A-Wish is one united family. But it’s also a collection of independently chartered nonprofit organizations that stand committed to a shared vision and mission.

The Make-A-Wish national office is based in Phoenix, where the organization was established in 1980. It establishes guidelines for wish-granting standards, raises funds at a national level, provides legal support, develops strategies to advance awareness and establishes the overall direction for the organization.

Chapters throughout the United States serve every community across the nation and its territories. Each has its own board of directors, staff and volunteers. Chapters are the force bringing the Make-A-Wish mission to life. For most wishes, it is local staff members and volunteers who meet wish kids and their families, are told of the child’s one true wish, and devote their energy to make each wish come true.

The Make-A-Wish mission is too inspiring for just one country. Today, Make-A-Wish International is the hub for wish-granting activities in nearly 50 countries, outside of the United States, on five continents and counting. Affiliates in each country bring the mission to life in communities around the globe.

Make-A-Wish International

After the inception of Make-A-Wish America, interest in granting the wishes of children with critical illnesses quickly spread to other nations.

In 1993, Make-A-Wish International was officially formed to serve the five countries outside the United States that were already granting wishes. Today, Make-A-Wish International has 40 affiliates, serving children in nearly 50 countries on five continents.

Make-A-Wish International has the same mission as Make-A-Wish America — to grant the wishes of children with critical illnesses.

Make-A-Wish America grants the wishes of children in the United States and all of its territories and possessions, while Make-A-Wish International serves children outside the United States and its territories and possessions.

With the help of generous donors and more than 45,000 volunteers worldwide, Make-A-Wish has collectively granted more than 500,000 wishes worldwide, making it the world’s largest wish-granting organization. For more information about Make-A-Wish International, please visit worldwish.org.

 

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Transform lives, one wish at a time.