The Make-A-Wish Foundation is well-known across the United States for its mission: to provide incredible experiences to young people facing life-threatening conditions. Even so, the scope of the organization goes far beyond what many know about it, including offices in 45 countries outside of the United States. Coupled with a wide variety of external buy-in from celebrities and organizations, and Make-A-Wish starts to look less like a nonprofit and more like a social movement.
We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are no strangers to the good that the Make-A-Wish Foundation can do. In fact, our organization was presented with the Philanthropist of the Year award at Make-A-Wish’s America conference in 2017. Presented by Southern Florida board chair Shareef Malnik, the award was a representation of a long-term partnership between the two Foundations.
The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation both sponsored the Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball and provided a $6 million pledge—the largest in Southern Florida’s history. The donation went toward Make-A-Wish’s endowment and capital campaign as well as the organization’s future Wish House.
But Southern Florida is just one branch of a vast and highly successful organization. In fact, the Foundation saw its start in Arizona in 1980. At the time, Chris Grecius was being treated to leukemia while holding onto his dream of becoming a police officer. Family friend Tommy Austin looked into ways to give Chris some comfort in the days to come, not anticipating the impact that his story would have.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety learned of his wish and arranged for a day in which Chris flew in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. He even earned his motorcycle officer’s wings, given to him while in the hospital.
Though Chris passed soon after that, his story became the start of something larger. Arizona DPS officers convened with the intent of creating similarly enjoyable experiences for children. From humble donations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grew into what it is now—with numerous celebrities stepping up to pitch in and make a difference in the lives of children.
Far from once-and-done events, wishes can inspire a community to further action, drive awareness and medical research, or give the children the strength needed to carry on through difficult treatments.
Visit wish.org to explore some of the Foundation’s stories, connect with a chapter in your area, or make a donation of your own.