HomeNewsOfficer Frank Shankwitz, Make-a-Wish Foundation Co-Creator, Dead at 77

Officer Frank Shankwitz, Make-a-Wish Foundation Co-Creator, Dead at 77

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for GBK Productions

He once helped a terminally ill boy live out his dream to become a motorcycle cop. From there, he had started the idea behind a non-profit that would grow to help countless young children live out their dying wishes.

Today, the co-creator of Make-a-Wish, Frank Shankwitz, has passed away at the age of 77.

The Story of Frank and Chris

Shankwitz was an Arizona Highway Patrol officer. One day he met Chris Greicius, a young boy that was dying from leukemia. Shankwitz and the police department decided they wanted to help the boy live his dream of being a motorcycle cop. Greicius was obsessed with the thought after his favorite show “CHiPs.”

Frank Shankwitz greeted the young boy outside on his motorcycle. He later described the moment he first saw Greicius emerge and walk up to him in his memoir, “Wish Man.”

“Figuring he’d be brought out in a wheelchair, I was surprised when the door opened and a pair of sneakers emerged. Out stepped Chris, an excited 7-year-old boy who seemed so full of life it was hard to believe he was sick,” he wrote according to The New York Times.

They gave him a badge and a title as an honorary officer. He even had a driving test on a small battery-powered motorcycle toy out in his front yard.

The Beginning of Make-a-Wish

Unfortunately, the next day he fell into a very light coma. When Shankwitz went to visit, the boy asked if he had become an official motorcycle cop. Shankwitz replied, “You sure are.”

Chris died that day. After coming back from his funeral Shankwitz had the thought of doing the same thing he did for Chris, but for countless other children. The feeling of fulfillment and happiness he had given to Chris right before he died was infectious. He later came up with a plan that would become the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Now, the organization has helped more than 500,000 critically ill children live out their dreams. It has 64 U.S. chapters and 36 international chapters. From meeting their heroes to dream vacations to shopping sprees, kids get their final wish. Make-a-Wish also helps adults live out their final memories, as well.

Frank Shankwitz Story

Shankwitz selflessly gave his life to help those who wanted to live out the last moments of theirs epically.

He was the creator, co-founder, and the first president/CEO of Make-a-Wish. He had over 42 years of law enforcement experience.

According to his page on Human Kind Alliance, he was raised in Arizona and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 1971, he started his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety as a highway patrol officer.

His passion for helping and inspiring kids did not start with Make-a-Wish. He was a coach for the Special Olympics program back when he started as an officer. In 1975, he started visiting grade schools to talk about bike safety and let young kids sit on his motorcycle.

After helping Chris and burying him with full police honors, he realized his dream of helping fulfill children’s wishes. He received The President’s Call To Service Award from President George W. Bush in 2004.

He stepped down from his position as president in 1984, but never stopped visiting and meeting the kids. During his time with Make-a-Wish, he never once took a paycheck. He instead remained employed as a state trooper until 1996.

A 2019 biopic was made on Frank Shankwitz called “Wish Man” with Andrew Steel playing Frank.

H/T: The New York Times