April 29th 2020 – World Wish Day - Marks the 40th Anniversary of Make-A-Wish

April 29, 2020

Monroe Township - For four decades, Make-A-Wish has created life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses around the world. April 29th 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the day that inspired the founding of Make-A-Wish and has become known as World Wish Day.

In April 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona, seven-year-old Chris Greicius, who was battling leukemia, wanted to be a police officer. Members of law enforcement, including U.S. Customs agents and the Department of Public Safety, came together to create a life-changing experience for him. From a full police uniform, to tours in a squad car and even a ride in a helicopter, Chris’s experience provided him a level of joy that hadn’t been seen in a long time. On May 3rd 1980, Chris passed away and was given a full police ceremony. Those involved in Chris’ special day - including his mother Linda Pauling - were determined they could do this for more kids like Chris, and it was decided that they would create an unparalleled type of charity known as Make-A-Wish, to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

“He was only seven years, 269 days old when he died, but he taught me about being a man,” shared Tommy Austin, Make-A-Wish® co-founder and retired U.S. Customs agent. “Even though he was only a boy, I can tell you that because of meeting Chris, I am an entirely different man.”

Since April 1980, Make-A-Wish has created life-changing wishes for over 330,000 children in the United States and its territories, and over 500,000 wishes worldwide. On April 29th - World Wish Day - members of the Make-A-Wish family around the world recognize and honor those who sparked the global movement inspired by seven-year-old Chris, 40 years ago.

Make-A-Wish New Jersey was founded in 1983 and has granted more than 11,000 wishes to children in every county, town and municipality of the Garden State. Their home is in Monroe Township, at the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place. Opening its doors in December 2011, the Wishing Place is a magical and whimsical wish-granting castle, and the only one of its kind. It provides an environment that is free of limitations, confinement, and stress. It stimulates the imagination and reveals to children with critical illnesses the imaginative possibilities of a wish.

Now more than ever, Make-A-Wish New Jersey relies on the support of a loyal and generous community in the Garden State to help continue their mission in the future. During these difficult times, Make-A-Wish faces new challenges. Due to current medical and public concerns, travel-related wishes and wishes that involve large gatherings have been postponed for the well-being of wish kids and families. Over 80% of wishes granted in New Jersey involve travel, and as a result more than 100 wishes have been put on hold. An estimated 30 wishes per day are postponed on a national scale. But the organization remains steadfast in its mission and reaffirms to the community and most importantly to wish families – wishes are not cancelled.

“On World Wish Day and this our fortieth anniversary, a day of celebration even amidst such uncertain times, we continue to be inspired by our founders,” shared Tom Weatherall, President & CEO of Make-A-Wish New Jersey. “We honor them with a continued commitment to our vision – to grant the wish of every eligible child. Wishes are not cancelled. Hope is not cancelled. We remain determined to grant every eligible wish, and will do so at an unprecedented pace, with the same quality and passion as we always have, as soon as it is safe.”

“Illness does not discriminate, and it does not go on hold when other world events occur,” Weatherall continued. “Every day, on average, two families here in New Jersey will go home with test results. Those results will tell them that their child has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that would qualify them for our mission. The number of wishes we must grant is building every day. We are acutely aware of the effects the pandemic has had on the economy, and we recognize these are difficult times. We also know we have a most generous and loyal donor base – corporations, community foundations and individuals alike – that have come through for us in the past, and we know they will be there for us again.”

On April 29th, World Wish Day, Make-A-Wish New Jersey joins all other chapters and affiliates worldwide to launch Wishes Need Stars Like You – a new campaign that rallies the collective star power of everyday people and corporate sponsors who help wish kids and their families when they need it most. The year-long effort will highlight the past, present and future stars who align their time, talents and resources to make the Make-A-Wish mission possible – from wish alumni to referral sources in the medical community and on the frontlines, to donors, corporate partners, board members, volunteers, and community supporters.  To ensure the next 40 years are even more impactful than the first 40 in its history, Make-A-Wish has launched the Wishes Need Stars Like You campaign to help people recognize the power they have to be a shining star for wish kids.

Between now and World Wish Day 2021, many Make-A-Wish national sponsors will take part in the 40th Anniversary, including The Walt Disney Company, Macy’s, GameStop, WWE, ABC Supply, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, American Freight, Avis, Brooks Brothers, Fairmont Hotels, Frigo Cheese Heads, Keebler, Lokai, Marquis Spas, NowMobile, Party City, Petland, Southwest Airlines, Subaru of America, Topgolf, Torchy's Tacos, Trusted Choice, and United Airlines.

For more information about Make-A-Wish New Jersey and how you can play a key role in creating hope for the future, visit nj.wish.org.