It all started at a stake-out in the Arizona desert. U.S. Customs Agent Tommy Austin told Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Ron Cox about Chris Greicius, a 7 year old boy with leukemia who’s dream was to be a police officer. Austin and Cox made it their goal to grant Chris’ wish, recruiting DPS spokesman Allan Schmidt, who received carte blanche from DPS Director Ralph Milstead to do whatever he needed to make this a memorable experience for Chris. With help from Lt. Col. Dick Schaefer, Officer Jim Eaves, and Officer Frank Shankwitz, Chris got his wish on April 29, 1980. Given a uniform, hat, and one of Schaefer’s old badges, Chris became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. Chris passed away May 3rd of that year.Make-A-Wish is 100% donor-funded! Click To Tweet
“He was only seven years, 269 days old when he died,” said Tommy Austin, Make-A-Wish co-founder and retired U.S. Customs agent. “But he taught me about being a man. Even though he was only a boy. I can tell you that because of meeting Chris, I am an entirely different man. Ron Cox said the same thing. He said he didn’t fear death anymore, because he knew Chris would be there waiting for him.” According to Make-A-Wish Connecticut’s website, that summer, a group of DPS officers met for the first Make-A-Wish meeting. In November of that year, they received tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization.
In 1982, NBC Magazine did a story about Make-A-Wish, prompting thousands of people from all over the country to get involved with an organization that grants wishes to kids diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Make-A-Wish Connecticut was founded in 1986 and serves all eight counties of the state. Hoffman Auto Group is proud to be partnered with Make-A-Wish Connecticut. This partnership kicked off with the annual Miles for Smiles campaign at NBC Connecticut, which Hoffman Auto Group sponsored. Did you know that 75% of all wish experiences nationally involve travel? To cover the cost of wish travel for children and their families, Make-A-Wish needs more than 2.5 billion frequent flier miles every year. Thanks to the generosity of our community, the Miles for Smiles telethon raised over 2,500,000 frequent flier miles!Somewhere in the U.S., a wish is granted every 35 minutesClick To Tweet
At this year’s telethon, volunteers from Hoffman Auto Group, NBC Connecticut, Aetna, and Make-A-Wish came together to take calls and gather both monetary and frequent flier miles donations. Several wish kids answered calls and shared their stories about the incredible impact Make-A-Wish has had on their lives, including Carly, Carlos, Emma, Hailey, Edwards, Mia, Zoe, Jeshua, and Morgan. Morgan received her wish during the telethon on-air- a trip to Costa Rica!Since 1980, more than 270,000 children in the United States and its territories have had their wishes fulfilled.Click To Tweet
A study done in 2011 found that when wish kids are granted their wish, it gives them more than great memories. The wish experience improves the quality of life for them and their families. Eighty-nine percent of doctors, nurses, and health professionals said that they believe a wish can influence a kid’s physical health. The wish is often a turning point for the child’s battle with their health, and wish kids are more willing to comply with difficult, but vital, treatment regimens. Nearly 99% of parents reported that the wish experience gave their children increased feelings of happiness and 96% said that the wish experience strengthened their families. Wishes help kids regain their self-confidence and feel less isolated from their peers. They become empowered to take back control of their lives and keep up the fight against their life-threatening medical conditions.
Are you interested in getting involved with Make-A-Wish Connecticut? You can purchase tickets now for Make-A-Wish Connecticut’s 2017 Evening of Wishes Gala at Mohegan Sun on March 25. Join us at Mohegan Sun for an incredible evening celebrating sports wishes with dinner, dancing, auction excitement and special guests Chris Connelly, WWE Superstars, and more! Can’t make it to the gala? No problem, there are many other ways to get involved. These vary from volunteer work, monetary and in-kind donations, and event fundraising.
Last year, Make-A-Wish Connecticut granted a record 243 wishes! Although the average cost of a wish is $10,000, due to community support no wish has ever been turned down due to lack of funding. Join us and get involved to make sure that Make-A-Wish Connecticut continues their mission to improve the lives of Connecticut children.