The story of Make-A-Wish


Here's how the Make-A-Wish Foundation began

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 United States 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.

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.

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's. 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.


For over 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,, 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.

2020: Make-A-Wish celebrates the 40th anniversary of our first wish. 

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