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Make-A-Wish Foundation facts for kids

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MAW Standard RGB.png
Formation April 29, 1980; 44 years ago (1980-04-29)
Type 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Purpose Fulfilling the wishes of children with critical illnesses and emergency situations
Headquarters Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
President & CEO
Leslie Motter

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in the United States that helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 3 and 18 years old. Make-A-Wish was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Phoenix. The organization operates through its 59 chapters located throughout the United States. Make-A-Wish also operates in nearly 50 other countries around the world through 39 international affiliates.


Early origins (1980)

The genesis of the Make-A-Wish Foundation can be traced back to 7-year-old Christopher James Greicius in 1980, who dreamt of becoming a police officer while battling leukemia. His wish was realized through the collective efforts of his community in Phoenix, Arizona, which marks the inception of what would become a global wish-granting movement. This single act of generosity inspired the establishment of Make-A-Wish which was officially founded later that year.

Growth and expansion (1980-present)

Since its inception, Make-A-Wish has seen exponential growth. In 1986, Make-A-Wish began to expand outside of the U.S. with the first international organization being Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, which was founded by six volunteers. By 1993, the foundation continued to expand internationally with the formation of Make-A-Wish International, initially serving five countries outside the U.S. As of now, it extends its reach to children in 50 countries across six continents through 40 affiliates, with 550,000 wishes worldwide being granted by the foundation with the backing of more than 43,000 volunteers.


Barack Obama gives a Presidential coin to Nick Wetzel
President Barack Obama with Make-A-Wish recipient Nick Wetzel and his older brother Stephan on December 9, 2016

A child with a critical illness who has reached the age of 212 and is under the age of 18 at the time of referral is potentially eligible for a wish. After a child is referred, Make-A-Wish staff work with each child's healthcare team to determine if a child is medically eligible for a wish, based on the medical criteria established by Make-A-Wish. In addition, a child cannot have received a wish from another wish-granting organization.

Each Make-A-Wish chapter follows specific policies and guidelines for granting a child's wish. Make-A-Wish works closely with the wish child's physician and family to determine the most appropriate time to grant the wish, keeping in mind the child's treatment protocol or other concerns. Most wish requests fall into five categories: I wish to go, I wish to be, I wish to meet, I wish to have, or I wish to give.

Professional wrestler John Cena holds the title for the most wishes granted by a single individual, at over 650 wishes.


Deepak S Bhatia and Indrajit Das 02
Deepak S. Bhatia, CEO of Make-A-Wish, India, with Wikipedian in Kolkata Office on April 1, 2017

The national board of directors helps chart Make-A-Wish's course. The board determines the organization's mission and vision, evaluates and supports the president and chief executive officer, and protects Make-A-Wish's assets. The board also enhances Make-A-Wish's public standing, ensures accountability, maintains legal integrity, and assesses its own performance.

The senior leadership team is composed of Make-A-Wish's top-level management. Each member is a national office leader in disciplines that include wish-granting, fundraising, legal, brand advancement, and operational activities. The president and CEO guides the strategic plan in areas such as board development, talent development, fundraising, and corporate relations.

As of Sep 28, 2023, Charity Navigator gave Make-A-Wish a four-star overall rating, out of a possible four, and a 97% financial and accountability rating.

Hunting and fishing

Marine for a day, young boy has wish granted 130328-M-HQ478-187
U.S. Marines involved in the Make-A-Wish activities for children

Make-A-Wish stopped granting wishes involving hunting-related activities, including fishing, use of firearms or other weapons that are designed to cause animal injury in 1996. This was largely due to concerns over child safety, pressure from animal-sensitive donors, and criticism from animal rights groups. In response, three organizations were formed: Hunt of a Lifetime, which arranges hunting trips for terminally ill children; 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 hunting experiences to ill children; and Life Hunts, founded by the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Fundación Make-A-Wish para niños

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