Frank Shankwitz

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Frank Shankwitz
Known forCo-founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation

Frank Shankwitz is the co-founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation[1][2][3] he has received the President's Call to Service Award, the Making a Difference in the World, the Making a World of Difference and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor awards.[4][5][6]

Early life[edit]

Raised in northern Arizona, Shankwitz attended grade school in Seligman, and junior high and high school in Prescott, graduating from Prescott High School in 1961. Shankwitz graduated from Phoenix College in 1970, with continuing education at Arizona Western College and Arizona State University. Following high school, Shankwitz enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, was stationed in England, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1965. Upon returning home, Shankwitz was employed by Motorola for seven years.


In 1972, Shankwitz began his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol as a car officer in the Yuma area where Shankwitz's interest in working with children began as a coach for the Special Olympics program.

In 1975, Shankwitz was transferred to the Phoenix area to be part of a new 10-man Motorcycle Tactical Unit designed to work throughout the state. For the next 7 years, whenever assigned to small towns, Shankwitz would visit local grade schools and talk about bicycle safety and let the children sit on his motorcycle.

Shankwitz was one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol who was responsible for granting the "wish" of a 7-year-old boy with leukemia who wanted to be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer like his heroes, Ponch and John from the television show, "CHiPS".[7] Chris was made the first and only Honorary Arizona Highway Patrol Officer in the history of the Arizona Highway Patrol, complete with a custom made uniform, badge, and Motor Officer Wings. Chris succumbed to his illness a few days after receiving his "wish", and was buried with full police honors in Illinois, with Shankwitz leading the police funeral procession. Chris was the inspiration for Shankwitz's idea to start a non-profit foundation that would let children "make-a-wish" and have it come true.[8]

Shankwitz retired as a homicide detective from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, returned as a sworn Reserve Detective, assigned to the Prescott Police Department's Cold Case Homicide Unit, and is a member of the Yavapai County Mounted Sheriff's Posse.

Make-A-Wish Foundation[edit]

Shankwitz, along with his wife Kitty and several others, founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1980, with Shankwitz being the first President/CEO. Thirty-four years later, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has grown to 64 chapters in the United States, 36 International chapters, covering 5 continents, and has granted over 300,000 wishes worldwide, with a wish being granted somewhere in the world on an average of every 38 minutes. Shankwitz continues to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a Wish Ambassador and key-note speaker at fund-raising event for chapters throughout the United States, as well as a former board member of the Arizona chapter. Shankwitz and his wife Kitty are still volunteers and wish-granters for the foundation.[9]

In 2004, Shankwitz received The President's Call To Service Award from President George W. Bush for service and civic participation, and recognition and appreciation for commitment to strengthen our Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.

Shankwitz received the Tempe, Arizona Sister Cities "Making A World of Difference" award.[10]

In 2010, Shankwitz was featured in Brad Meltzer's book, "Heroes For My Son", identified as one of the 52 people who have made a difference in the world.[11]

Shankwitz has been featured in USA Weekend Magazine,[12] The Huffington Post,[13] and other publications.

Shankwitz has one book released, co-authored with Rachelle Sparks, "Once Upon A Wish." Shankwitz has also been featured in Greg Reid's, "Universal Wish" and Lisa Heidinger's, "Wishes In Flight".[14]

Personal life[edit]

Shankwitz and his wife Kitty currently reside in Prescott. His two adult daughters, three grandchildren and one great-grandson reside in Ohio.


  1. ^ "Shankwitz Ranks Among the Greatest in History". Headline News Makers. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Officers Frank Shankwitz and Scott Stahl fly back to Illinois for the funeral; Chris is given the ceremony of a fellow fallen officer". Wish. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  3. ^ Hanna, Kim. "MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION". Az 100 Years. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  4. ^ Hittle, Arlene (7 May 2015). "Make-a-Wish founder to receive Ellis Island Medal of Honor". Daily Courrier. Archived from the original on 12 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  5. ^ "New book fulfills vision of Make A Wish co-founder Shankwitz". The Daily Courier. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  6. ^ "The first wish". The Star. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Make-A-Wish founder recalls 1st wish". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  8. ^ Roach, Sean. "Make-A-Wish Founders Visit Tarrytown". Patch New York. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  9. ^ Holland, Catherine (April 29, 2010). "World Wish Day celebrates Make-a-Wish and Arizona roots". Az Family. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  10. ^ "The 2014 honorees this year" (Making a World of Difference). Tempe Sister Cities. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  11. ^ "In 'Heroes' From The Past, Lessons For A Son". NPR Books. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Inspire your kids with stories of heroes". USA Weekend. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  13. ^ "". Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 September 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Standing in the pavilion at Jennings Beach on Saturday". News Times. Retrieved 22 September 2014.