Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization in the United States. It provides grants for children who are suffering from a life threatening disease. This organization grants wishes to children that belong to the age group of 2.5 years to 18 years. The idea is to allow an enriching human experience to these children and bring hope and joy.
The organization was founded in Arizona in 1980. It began after granting a wish to a boy who wanted to become a police officer. A group of caring volunteers made this wish come true but soon after the child died. Post this simple start, the volunteers realized that this was a cause that many people were willing to work for and hence led to the organization spreading across many countries. The organization was officially formed in 1993 and at this stage it was catering to five countries apart from the United States.
There are now various affiliates of the organization (36 on last count) and Make-A-Wish Foundation operates in more than 47 countries. It has about 64 chapters in the United States alone.
The process that involves granting a wish has 4 basic steps. Each of these steps builds on the first one in order to bring joy and happiness to children who otherwise have a bleak future. The first step is the referral step where the foundation relies on parents, medical professionals and the children. The second step is to ensure medical eligibility. The child should have a life threatening illness that is degenerative, progressive or malignant in nature.
Finding the true wish of the child is the next step. This is a process that requires the involvement of some volunteers so that they can explore the child's imagination and arrive at the true wish that the child has. This step is important so that they can actually grant a wish that will bring true joy and happiness to the child. The fourth step involves actually making the wish come true and creating a memorable experience for the child.
The stated mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to "grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions in order to enrich the human experience with strength, hope and joy". The organization has been planning its actions based on this mission ever since 1980, which is when it was formed. The foundation has enriched the lives of many children who otherwise have no hope of having their wish come true.
The mission itself shows how the organization has created life changing experiences for children who are known to have life threatening diseases. The joy and happiness that they have bought to these children and their families is incomparable to any of the medical aid that they have been given.
The excitement that the Make-A-Wish Foundation can bring into the lives of those who are otherwise feeling frustrated, desolate and at a wits end has inspired many people. Once the concept was created there were many people who came forth to donate to this worthy cause. The network of over 25,000 volunteers, who make the wishes of terminally ill children possible. They work as wish granters and also relentlessly work towards getting more funding by organizing special events to create awareness of this foundation.
The organization is extremely professional about the manner in which it manages the donations that it gets. About 75 percent of the donations are used in making the program services come true. This involves the actual process of making the wish come true. The foundation also shares its annual report on its website so that it is transparent for all to see.
Not all Make-A-Wish kids have terminal illnesses. Some of them have been able to find hope and strength by the work that the foundation has done and have grown to be healthy adults. The ones that do live are proof of how hope can actually make a difference to the manner in which people fight adversity.
The first wish that the foundation granted was for a child to be a police officer. This is something that was done by a group of volunteers who went out of their way and made the wish came true. From then onwards the foundation has never looked back. The history of this first wish can be traced back to Christopher James Greicius, a 7 year old boy in the year 1980 who wanted to be a police officer. He was being treated of leukemia and there was hardly any hope for survival.
A U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin, who was a friend of his parents', promised the child a ride in the police helicopter. This promise was fulfilled when Christopher's health was deteriorating so that his spirits could be raised to make him feel better. An officer of the Arizona Department of Public Safety was contacted and the helicopter ride was organized.
The day was planned in style and three cruisers and a motorcycle officer greeted the boy before he went on to meet the DPS command staff. He was actually sworn in as the first honorary DPS patrolman in the history of the state.
A custom tailored DPS uniform was made for Christopher and two seamstresses worked through the night to create the uniform. The official uniform was presented to the boy and a motorcycle proficiency test was created to award wings to him too. The battery operated motorcycle helped him to earn his wings in style.
Christopher passed away soon after that, but the legend of this story lived on to create a foundation that has helped many children achieve their wish. When the volunteers saw the amount of joy that it bought a dying child, they thought it would be a great idea to take it forward. The first donation that the foundation received was from a grocery shop to the tune of $15. The foundation received a tax-exempt status in November, 1980 and by March 1981 the Make-A-Wish Foundation had received $2000, an amount that was good enough to grant another wish.
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