September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll spend a lot of time quoting statistics, telling everyone how common childhood cancer really is, complaining about the complete lack of funding by our government and most cancer charities, and railing against the intrusion of the pink horde into the children’s gold month.
However, I’d also like to comment on a few excellent organizations that go above and beyond in their attempt to help sick children. The first one is Make-A-Wish.
Back in 1980 there was a child, 7 year old Chris Greicius, who was battling Leukemia and had always dreamed of being a police officer. With some luck, fortune, and fate, Chris’ mom was friends with the wife of a US Customs Agent, Tommy Austin, who happens to be on an assignment with a policeman, Ron Cox. Agent Austin tells Officer Cox about Chris, his situation, and how much he wants to be a police officer.
The wheels having been set in motion, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and so many others, upon hearing about Chris’ wish, do all they can to give him all he ever wanted. Chris is flown to police headquarters in a helicopter, where a police patrol car, motorcycle ridden by Officer Frank Shankwitz, and his very own uniform and badge await him. He becomes Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer.
Unfortunately, as with far too many children with cancer, Chris passed away on May 3, 1980. After attending the funeral, Officer Shankwitz comes up with the idea for a wish granting organization. In November of 1980, Make-A-Wish is granted it’s non-profit status and grants the first wish in the spring of 1981 after raising $2000.
Today, in 2016, more than 270,000 children in the United States have benefited from the incredible work Make-A-Wish performs. Our daughter Emily was one of the children who benefited from their program… I take that back… our entire family benefited from their program.
Make-A-Wish takes children with life threatening diseases, and simply put, attempts to grant whatever wish the child may have. Whether it’s traveling to a theme park, going on a shopping spree, meeting with a celebrity, or working at a job they’ve always dreamed of. Obviously there are limits, both physical and financial, however every effort is made by the organization and volunteers to create an amazing experience for the well deserving children and their families.
At what can only be described as one of the most difficult times in our lives, Make-A-Wish granted Emily’s wish of going to Disney World. It’s hard to put into words the emotions you go through as a parent as you take your child on what you know will be your last vacation together. However, we quickly realized what a precious gift Make-A-Wish gave us when we saw how quickly Emily smiled, laughed, and enjoyed herself as she hadn’t done in such a long time. As much as they had granted Emily’s wish, they granted ours as a family as well.
Make-A-Wish continues to provide these moments for these special children and their families every single day, at no cost to the families.
For more information on this amazing organization, to make a donation, or to volunteer (highly recommended), please visit their website at http://wish.org.