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The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in the United States that arranges experiences (described as "wishes") to children with life-threatening medical conditions. In order to qualify for a wish, the child must be between the ages of 2 and a half and 18 at the time of referral. It is the child's physician that ultimately decides if a child is eligible. The organization grants wishes through its 62 chapters located throughout the country. Make-A-Wish also operates in 47 countries around the world through 36 affiliate offices. The President and CEO of Make-A-Wish America is David A. Williams. WWE Superstar John Cena has granted the most wishes overall, with over 400.
In the spring of 1980, 7-year-old Christopher James Greicius was being treated for leukemia. He had always wanted to be a police officer. U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin befriended Chris and worked with officers at the Arizona Department of Public Safety to plan an experience to lift Greicius' spirits. Chris spent the day as a police officer, rode in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and was sworn in as the first honorary DPS patrolman in state history. Greicius died soon after, but his wish became inspiration for the world's largest wish-granting organization.
Children who may be eligible to receive a wish can be referred by one of the following three sources:
- Medical professionals treating the child
- A parent or legal guardian
- The potential wish child
To refer a child, the appropriate referral source can use Make-A-Wish’s online inquiry form or contact the Make-A-Wish chapter closest to them. All medical information is considered confidential and is not discussed with outside parties unless it is required for the wish and the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) have given their consent.
A child with a life-threatening medical condition who has reached the age of 2 ½ and is under the age of 18 at the time of referral, is potentially eligible for a wish. After a child is referred, the child’s treating physician must determine whether the 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. The physician also plays a major role in determining whether the child’s condition will permit a particular wish to be carried out safely. 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.
Make-A-Wish America supports chapters in their day-to-day work granting wishes. This includes helping chapters develop resources, administer programs and referrals and navigate policies and guidelines. In 2012, combined national office and chapters, 75% of functional expenses came from program services, 15% from fundraising, and 10% from management and general expenses. Looking at revenues, 81% came from contributions, 14% from special events, and 5% from other income and revenue. You can find audited financial statements, the IRS form 990, and the annual report on the Make-A-Wish website.
National Board of Directors: The National Board of Directors helps chart Make-A-Wish’s course. They contribute a vast array of experience and skills that help maintain Make-A-Wish’s status as the nation’s largest wish-granting organization. The board determines the mission and vision, evaluates and supports the president and chief executive officer, and protects Make-A-Wish’s assets. The board enhances Make-A-Wish’s public standing, ensures accountability, maintains legal integrity, and assesses its own performance.
Senior Leadership Team: This 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.
Make-A-Wish ceased granting wishes involving the gift or use of firearms or other weapons designed to cause injury in 1996, based on concerns over maintaining the well-being of a child in a weakened state handling weapons. In response, three organizations were formed: Hunt of a Lifetime, which arranged 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.
In popular culture
- In the South Park episode Kenny Dies, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is heavily satirized when they visit Kenny in the hospital and asks what his one wish is. Kenny's wish is not to die, which is met with a long and uncomfortable silence in the room. They then ask if Kenny has a second wish, perhaps to meet Madonna, to which Kenny replies that Madonna is "an old, anorexic whore who wore out her welcome years ago and that now she suddenly speaks with a British accent and she thinks she can play guitar and she should go f--- herself."
- In the Family Guy episode If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin', a parody of the Make-A-Wish Foundation called the Grant-a-Dream Foundation was presented.
- In the game Portal, the Aperture Science Corporation (led by Cave Johnson, the mentally unstable CEO voiced by J. K. Simmons) 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 January 2008, the satirical news site The Onion produced a parody video claiming that the 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. The Mansion and The Chaser's War on Everything did very similar sketches about the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the latter causing an unprecedented amount of controversy.
- For one week every year, the sports news show SportsCenter has a daily segment called "My Wish" for a week, in which they showcase sports-related wishes for sick children made possible with the help of Make-A-Wish (see the list of SportsCenter segments and specials).
- Four children were guest-stars on the show Cake Boss, in which Buddy Valastro helped four children make one-of-a-kind cakes before making a hot air balloon cake for a reception for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- Daniel Stark, a cancer survivor thanks to the foundation, appeared in "The Big Day", the series finale of the animated TV show Rocket Power.
- A special episode of Achievement HORSE with Rooster Teeth Productions had Michael Jones vs. Ian, who made his wish to play H-O-R-S-E with them.
- In The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Augustus Waters uses a company similar to Make-A-Wish called 'Genies' to fulfill his girlfriend's dream of meeting her favorite author.
- In a Cyanide and Happiness comic strip, a boy in the hospital is met by an ambassador from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The boy tells the ambassador and his father that his wish is that it "didn't hurt anymore". After a long while, the father returns at night and smothers the boy. The comic was part of Depressing Comic Week, a week containing daily comics that always go over the top to make the reader feel saddened. In another strip, a boy wishes that the ambassador's head blows up and bats come out, after which the child exclaims, "it worked!" 
- Disney Worldwide Outreach Program, a partner of the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Sunshine Foundation
- Our Mission from Make-A-Wish Foundation website
- Make-A-Wish Foundation International : Countries
- Contact Us. Make-A-Wish Foundation. Retrieved on August 29, 2012
- Refer a Child from the Make-A-Wish website
- Managing Our Funds from Make-A-Wish America website
- About Us from Make-A-Wish International website
- Hunt of a Lifetime's official site
- CNN.com – Hunting organization grants wish that Make-a-Wish won't – December 15, 2000[dead link]
- Catch-a-Dream's official site
- "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Make-a-Wish Foundation Bankrupted by Unlimited Wishes". Snopes. 31 January 2088. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- The Chaser vs. The Mansion vs. The Onion
- Chaser sketch 'may have been ripped off'
- Sick kids stunt earns Chaser 2-week ban
- "Cyanide and Happiness". Explosm.net. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "Cyanide and Happiness". Explosm.net. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
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