Make-a-Wish Foundation Co-founder Frank Shankwitz Passes Away at 77 — Look through His Legacy

Frank Shankwitz died on January 24 in his Prescott, Arizona home at the age of 77. He was a Highway Patrol officer in Arizona who had a charity foundation for terminally ill children.

Last month, the Make-A-Wish foundation released a statement that expressed their deep sadness over the passing of Frank Shankwitz, who was one of the six people who helped grant Chris Greicius' wish.

According to the statement, Shankwitz became one of Make-A-Wish's co-founders after fulfilling Greicius' wish. The statement also expressed the foundation's love for the Shankwitz family.

Frank Shankwitz at Allure Banquet & Catering on July 11, 2018 in Van Nuys, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Frank Shankwitz at Allure Banquet & Catering on July 11, 2018 in Van Nuys, California. | Photo: Getty Images

The Make-a-Wish foundation was started in 1980 due to hearing about an Arizona boy named Chris Greicius, who had leukemia and wanted to join the force when he grew up. 

An honorary officer was arranged for the boy by the department. Shankwitz made a special badge for Greicius and contacted the actors of "CHiPs," the boy's favorite show, for autographs.

Frank Shankwitz at the GBK and La Peer Pre-Globes Luxury Lounge on January 04, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Frank Shankwitz at the GBK and La Peer Pre-Globes Luxury Lounge on January 04, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

A few days after Greicius received the gifts and his wish was granted, the boy died. Shankwitz was deeply impacted by the experience, which led him to help create the Make-a-Wish foundation.

In his 2018 memoir called "Wise Man," Shankwitz wrote: "It was once enough for me to be a dad, a cowboy, and a highway patrol officer. But my destination changed."

He is survived by Kitty, his two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Frank Shankwitz and Stephanie Kinney at the 2018 Classic New York Gala on September 22, 2018 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

Frank Shankwitz and Stephanie Kinney at the 2018 Classic New York Gala on September 22, 2018 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

In 1984, Shankwitz decided to step down as its president. He explained that he was also working on narcotics at the time and couldn't have his name and face plastered all over the place.

Shankwitz looked for professional help from non-profits. The foundation began hiring people who had experience, contacts, and the right background to put Make-A-Wish on the map.

Make-a-Wish is now a worldwide non-profit serving 50 countries around the world. They've helped fulfill more than 334,000 wishes. Shankwitz's legacy will be forever remembered.

Meanwhile, Kitty Shankwitz, Shankwitz's wife, said her husband's death was caused by esophageal cancer. He is survived by Kitty, his two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Shankwitz was among the several notable personalities who passed away recently. On February 1, the world also lost Dustin Diamond when he succumbed to carcinoma. 

Meanwhile, legendary broadcaster Larry King died on January 23. The cause of his death was not given, but he was fighting COVID-19 in the hospital more than a week before his death.

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