The Make-A-Wish Foundation
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
that "grants wishes" to children (2.5 years to 18 years old) with life-threatening medical conditions
Make-A-Wish originated in Phoenix
in 1980, where a seven-year-old boy, Christopher James Greicius, was hospitalized with leukemia. The Arizona Department of Public Safety, hospital workers and members of the community teamed up and were able to grant his 'wish': to become a police officer
for one day. Ample media coverage led to the founding of a permanent charity organization, using Christopher James Greicius' case as a model. On 3 May 1980, just four days after his wish was granted, Christopher Greicius died.
Originally based in the United States of America, a chapter in Canada, called Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada, was created in 1983 by Nigel Brown and Robb Lucy. The first Canadian wish was granted in 1983. It was a wish for a girl named Debbie who wanted to visit her parents in Germany. She got to visit them in August 1983. She died in October 1983. In addition a non-profit umbrella organization called Make-a-Wish Foundation International, licensed by Make-a-Wish in 1993, fosters the growth of affiliated Make-A-Wish organizations worldwide. More than 30 countries were affiliated in 2005. It has been the philanthropy of NPC sorority Chi Omega since 2000.
In 2006, the foundation formed a partnership with television network ESPN to grant ten of its clients' wishes related to sports and athletes. The segments were televised on SportsCenter in a series called "My Wish".
Also in 2006, Mariah Carey was named the organization's first "Wish Icon" for her work with the Foundation. The organization's website says, "Carey is a committed volunteer for the Make-A-Wish foundation. She has personally granted dozens of wishes for children across the country. Many children have taken Carey’s place at music awards shows, thanks to her generosity. Carey also donates to help grant performing arts/music wishes and she has donated in six figures to fund more than 20 wishes." In 2007, the award was renamed the "Mariah Carey Wish Icon Award," in honor of the singer.
Make-A-Wish foundation also supports an Annual European Charity Band under the direction of current international director Danny Lieberman that sends students to Europe to play music for children in hospitals and to grant wishes.
On 9 April 2007 Make-A-Wish was also seen on WWE's RAW when Mick Foley granted the wish of Michael Peña, who became General Manager for the night. Linda McMahon and Vince McMahon, the owners of WWE, are on the National Advisory Council of the Foundation. The foundation has also created the "yugioh:Tyler the Great Warrior" Yu-Gi-Oh! card due to the wish of 14-year old Tyler Gressle. In 2008, the foundation arranged for a girl named Kasey to meet Ryan Sheckler, star of the television show Life of Ryan in a second season episode. Sheckler talked about how meeting Kasey changed his view of life, because even though she had cancer, she was happy and tried to live a normal teenage life.
Partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment
(WWE) has been in partnership with the Make-a-Wish Foundation for over 20 years. WWE superstar John Cena
, in particular, has granted over 100 wishes to date. WWE signed a multi-year sponsorship commitment to Make-a-Wish in 2008, and commemorated the event by holding its largest-ever wish granting, bringing 50 children to see WrestleMania XXIV
The Make-A-Wish Foundation ceased granting hunting
trips in 1999 amid criticisms from animal rights groups. The Foundation explained that the decision was based on the danger of having a child in a weakened state handling firearms. In response, two other similar organizations were formed: Hunt of a Lifetime, which arranged hunting trips for terminally ill children, and Catch-a-Dream, which was conceived by Mississippi outdoorsman Bruce Brady, and formed by his loved ones following Brady's death from cancer, to grant outdoor experiences to ill children.
Disney Channel Games
- During the Disney Channel Games, the red team sponsored Make-A-Wish. If they won, Disney would donate money to the foundation. However, the green team won, so Make-A-Wish did not get the money.
In popular culture
- It was spoofed in the Family Guy episode If I'm Dying, I'm Lying as the Grant-A-Dream Foundation, where Peter pretends his son is dying in order to get the foundation to bring back a cancelled TV show.
- In the game Portal The Aperture Science Corporation (led by a mentally unstable CEO) has a "Take-a-Wish" Tier of Research and Development, whose goal is to buy wishes off of the parents of terminally ill children and redistribute them to wish-deprived but otherwise healthy adults. It was a colossal failure.
- In the Pushing Daisies episode "Corpsicle," the Make-A-Wish Foundation was spoofed as The Wish-a-Wish Foundation, where a woman from the foundation tried to grant the wish of Abner, who was waiting for a heart transplant and was connected to the murder of a group of insurance agents.
- In an episode of House, while under the guise of being terminally ill, House tries to spend the night with Dr. Cuddy, to which she replies that he should call the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- In one episode of Chappelle's Show, Dave Chappelle visits a terminally ill child and plays a videogame called Street Hoops with him, rubbing it in his face when he loses.
- In the episode of South Park Kenny Dies,Kenny is dying and the Make a Wish Foundation asks him what he wants most in the world. Kenny responds (through Kyle), saying that he wanted to live. He was then offered a chance to meet Madonna, which he promptly turned down, but not before taking a few shots at the pop star first.
- In January 2008 the satirical news site The Onion produced a parody video claiming that Make-a-Wish Foundation was bankrupted due to a child's wish for "infinite wishes." The video was apparently so convincing that some people believed it was real and it had to be debunked by the urban legends web site Snopes.