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Make-A-Wish Foundation celebrates 40 years of changing lives

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 18:26:21-04

April 29th, 1980. The day a wish of becoming a police officer came true for a little boy in Phoenix battling cancer.

Chris Greicius was seven years old, when a favor called in to the Arizona Public Safety Office, turned into a real opportunity for Chris to become an honorary patrolman for the day.

“Chris changed into his uniform, had had his helmet, his Smokey the Bear hat. Chris strapped on his little gun holster and he was ready for anything,” recalled Chris’ mother, Linda Pauling.

It was a dream that launched a foundation, that forty years later is still changing lives, including for thousands of children in Virginia.

Parker Coleman was born with a terminal illness. Just before he passed away at the age of four, he told his mother that he wanted more than ever to go to Disney World. Mickey Mouse was his all-time favorite.

“He was always smiling, even on his worst days, but when we were there he was just ecstatic, said Parker’s mom, Sarah Coleman.

Over the years, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted more than 500,000 wishes.

In Virginia, more than 5,000 wishes have been granted since the chapter’s inception. The goal of Make-A-Wish is to give families more than memories, but hope for recovery.

Mark Carnes, a student at Richmond’s Steward School, was in the 8th grade when he was diagnosed with cancer. His wish to become an Air Force pilot for the day was granted, giving him even more incentive to keep fighting his illness.

“Throughout the entire treatment, I knew I had the opportunity waiting for me at the other end,” Carnes said. “If I could just get through what I was going through, I would have this awesome, awesome experience that I could share for the rest of my life.”

For Michael Sandridge, the dream of building a weight room for his Roanoke High School football team was a simple one, but a wish that’s had a profound impact. Two years after Michael’s wish was granted, his football team won the state championship. The team gave a lot of credit to Michael.

“When Michael, after he found out that he wasn’t going to make it, one time he looked at me and said ‘Mom- you won’t forget me, will you?’ I thought how can I even forget you, even to this day I think about you all the time,” said Michael’s mother Lisa Earp. “For me, the one thing is he’s not forgotten.”

Today, Make-A-Wish remains committed to bringing hope and healing to children, families and communities who need it most.

Especially in these unprecedented times, a wish that all started with a little boy in Phoenix, can create a lasting legacy for years to come.

“We say we’re paying it forward, the gift of a wish in Parker’s memory,” said Sarah Coleman. “We know every time we see a wish being granted that lives are changing.”