Make-A-Wish Foundation

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Make-A-Wish Foundation
Formation 1980; 42 years ago (1980)
Type 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Purpose Fulfilling "wish" experiences for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Headquarters Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in the United States that arranges experiences described as "wishes" to children with life-threatening medical conditions.[1] In order to qualify for a wish, the child must be between the ages of 3 to 17 at the time of referral. It is the child's physician that ultimately decides if a child is eligible.[1]

The national headquarters and founding chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation are in Phoenix, Arizona.[2] The organization grants wishes through its 61 chapters located throughout the US. Make-A-Wish also operates in 45 other countries around the world through 38 affiliate offices.[3] The President and CEO of Make-A-Wish America is David A. Williams.


In the spring of 1980, 7-year-old Christopher James Greicius (August 8, 1972 – May 3, 1980) was being treated for leukemia. He had always wanted to be a police officer. U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin befriended Chris and worked with officers at the Arizona Department of Public Safety to plan an experience to lift Greicius' spirits. Chris spent the day as a police officer, rode in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and was sworn in as the first honorary DPS patrolman in state history. Greicius died soon after, but his wish became inspiration for the world's largest wish-granting organization.[4]

Professional wrestler John Cena holds the title for the most wishes granted by a single individual, with over 500 wishes.[5] Singer Justin Bieber has volunteered in over 250 wishes.[6] National Women's Collegiate Fraternity Chi Omega has raised over $13 million for Make-A-Wish since 2001.[citation needed]


Children who may be eligible to receive a wish can be referred by one of the following three sources:

  1. Medical professionals treating the child
  2. A parent or legal guardian
  3. The potential wish child

To refer a child, the appropriate referral source can use Make-A-Wish’s online inquiry form or contact the Make-A-Wish chapter closest to them. All medical information is considered confidential and is not discussed with outside parties unless it is required for the wish and the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) have given their consent.

A child with a life-threatening medical condition who has reached the age of 2½ and is under the age of 18 at the time of referral, is potentially eligible for a wish. After a child is referred, the child’s treating physician must determine whether the child is medically eligible for a wish, based on the medical criteria established by Make-A-Wish. In addition, a child cannot have received a wish from another wish-granting organization.[7]

Each Make-A-Wish chapter follows specific policies and guidelines for granting a child’s wish. Make-A-Wish works closely with the wish child’s physician and family to determine the most appropriate time to grant the wish, keeping in mind the child’s treatment protocol or other concerns. Most wish requests fall into five categories: I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, I wish to have, or I wish to give.[7]


National Board of Directors: The National Board of Directors helps chart Make-A-Wish’s course. They contribute a vast array of experience and skills that help maintain Make-A-Wish’s status as the nation’s largest wish-granting organization. The board determines the mission and vision, evaluates and supports the president and chief executive officer and protects Make-A-Wish’s assets. The board enhances Make-A-Wish’s public standing, ensures accountability, maintains legal integrity, and assesses its own performance.[8]

Senior Leadership Team: This team is composed of Make-A-Wish’s top-level management. Each member is a National Office leader in disciplines that include wish-granting, fundraising, legal, brand advancement and operational activities. The president and CEO guides the strategic plan in areas such as board development, talent development, fundraising, and corporate relations.[8]

Firearms and Fishing

Make-A-Wish stopped granting wishes involving the gift or use of firearms or other weapons, including fishing tackle, designed to cause animal injury in 1996. This was largely due to the pressure from animal-sensitive donors, regardless of the child's wish. In response, three organizations were formed: Hunt of a Lifetime, which arranged hunting trips for terminally ill children,[9][10] Catch-a-Dream,[11] which was conceived by Mississippi outdoorsman Bruce Brady, and formed by his loved ones following Brady's death from cancer, to grant hunting experiences to ill children, and Life Hunts founded by the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation.

In popular culture

  • In the 1997 made-for-TV movie, A Child's Wish, the protagonist's wish is to go to the White House to meet the President who was responsible for signing the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 into law (which her father lobbied hard to help achieve). Although at first Make-A-Wish isn't sure she'll get to meet the President or even be allowed to see the Oval Office, in the end President Bill Clinton (as himself) does in fact meet her and make her wish come true.
  • In the South Park episode, Kenny Dies, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is heavily satirized when they visit Kenny in the hospital and asks what his one wish is. Kenny's wish is not to die, which is met with a long and uncomfortable silence in the room. They ask Kenny if has a second wish, perhaps to meet Madonna, to which Kenny replies, "Madonna is an old, anorexic whore who wore out her welcome years ago and now she suddenly speaks with a British accent and she thinks she can play guitar. She should go fuck herself."
  • In the Family Guy episode "If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'", a parody of the Make-A-Wish Foundation called the Grant-a-Dream Foundation was presented.
  • In the game Portal, the Aperture Science Corporation (led by Cave Johnson, the mentally unstable CEO voiced by J. K. Simmons) has a "Take-a-Wish" Tier of Research and Development, whose goal is to buy wishes from the parents of terminally ill children and redistribute them to wish-deprived but otherwise healthy adults; it was a colossal failure.[citation needed]
  • In January 2008, the satirical news site The Onion produced a parody video claiming that the Make-a-Wish Foundation was bankrupted due to a child's wish for "infinite wishes". The video was apparently so convincing that some people believed it to be real, and it had to be debunked by the urban legends web site Snopes.[12] The Mansion and The Chaser's War on Everything did similar sketches about the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the latter causing an unprecedented amount of controversy.[13][14][15]
  • For one week every year, the sports news show SportsCenter has a daily segment called "My Wish" for a week, in which they showcase sports-related wishes for sick children made possible with the help of Make-A-Wish (see the list of SportsCenter segments and specials).
  • Four children were guest-stars on the show Cake Boss, in which Buddy Valastro helped four children make one-of-a-kind cakes before making a hot air balloon cake for a reception for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  • Daniel Stark, a cancer survivor thanks to the foundation, appeared in "The Big Day", the series finale of the animated TV show Rocket Power.
  • In The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Augustus Waters uses a company similar to Make-A-Wish called 'Genies' to fulfill his girlfriend's dream of meeting her favorite author.
  • In a Cyanide & Happiness comic strip, a boy in the hospital is met by an ambassador from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The boy tells the ambassador and his father that he wished, "it didn't hurt anymore". After a long while, the father returns at night and smothers the boy. The comic was part of Depressing Comic Week, featuring irreverent daily comics intended to make the reader feel disturbed.[16] In another strip, a boy wishes that the ambassador's head blows up and bats come out, after which the child exclaims, "it worked!"[17]
  • In the Inside No. 9 episode "Last Gasp", a charity called "Wishmaker UK" with the same function as Make-A-Wish grants a family's request for a pop star to visit their daughter on her birthday. When the pop star dies suddenly from an aneurysm while blowing up a balloon for her, his assistant realizes that the balloon contains his dying breath and could be extremely valuable. The charity's representative then argues with the assistant and the child's father over which one of them owns the balloon.
  • In the Key & Peele episode "Scariest Movie Ever" a child surprises the Make-A-Wish Foundation asking insane wishes.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Our Mission Make-A-Wish Foundation
  2. Contact Us. Make-A-Wish Foundation. Retrieved on August 29, 2012
  3. Make-A-Wish Foundation International : The Make-A-Wish Story
  4. Official site
  5. Wish granted! WWE star John Cena to grant 500th Make-A-Wish request
  6. September 3rd, 2015 Justin Bieber helped more than 250 Make-A-Wish dreams come true
  7. 7.0 7.1 Refer a Child from the Make-A-Wish website
  8. 8.0 8.1 About Us from Make-A-Wish International website
  9. Hunt of a Lifetime's official site
  10. – Hunting organization grants wish that Make-a-Wish won't – December 15, 2000[dead link]
  11. Catch-a-Dream's official site
  12. "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Make-a-Wish Foundation Bankrupted by Unlimited Wishes". Snopes. 31 January 2088. Retrieved 13 June 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. The Chaser vs. The Mansion vs. The Onion
  14. Chaser sketch 'may have been ripped off'
  15. Sick kids stunt earns Chaser 2-week ban
  16. "Cyanide & Happiness". 11 April 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Cyanide & Happiness". 30 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links