Working Toward Wishes: Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas

In 1980, Christopher Greicius, an energetic 7-year-old-boy from Arizona, was battling leukemia. He also loved to play policeman and pretend to catch bad guys. On April 29, six members of his community came together to make his dream of becoming a police officer a reality. Little did anyone know that Christopher’s wish would be the beginnings of a movement that would transform the lives of thousands of seriously ill children in 50 countries through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Every 20 minutes, a child is diagnosed with a critical illness, according to Make-A-Wish. Since its inception, the nonprofit’s mission has been to grant life-changing wishes to those children. Over the last 44 years, more than 550,000 wishes have been granted worldwide. Going beyond a simple gift or act of generosity, these experiences help families find hope and give recipients the strength to cope with complex medical treatments. One of 59 branches across the country, the local Missouri and Kansas chapter has granted more than 10,000 wishes to kids between the ages of 2 ½ and 18.

The need for wishes in the Missouri and Kansas region is great. Currently, there are an estimated 700 children waiting to have their wishes granted, and more become eligible each year. Children’s requests often include participating in sports or the arts, experiencing their dream careers and having backyard playgrounds built, but the impact reaches much further than that. Children often want to make the world a better place by sharing their interests, and many of them use their wishes to help others in the community.

For every wish Make-A-Wish is able to grant, there are another three that require further financial support to make possible. “Last year, we were able to grant 438 wishes, the most in our chapter’s history,” says Caroline Schmidt, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas. “Our goal for this year is 420 wishes. We know that there is a subset of the population that we are not reaching, and we rely on community support to help those children.”

Earlier this month, Make-A-Wish held its annual Walk for Wishes presented by Spectrum in Forest Park. For more than a decade, the St. Louis Walk for Wishes has been the largest Make-A-Wish walk in the country, helping grant hundreds of wishes for children in the region each year. The fundraising goal for 2024 is $940,000, which will help grant 94 wishes to local children dealing with critical illnesses. “The Walk for Wishes is a way to celebrate the wishes we’ve granted as well as fundraising for those that are still waiting,” Schmidt says. “We’re so grateful that the community comes out to show its support and raise awareness for the cause.”

April 29 is World Wish Day, but this year, Make-A-Wish is launching a World Wish Month campaign. “The importance of our mission deserves more than a day,” Schmidt notes. “We want to use the month to really bring it to light.” The nonprofit is inviting people to get involved, with the goal of recruiting 1 million WishMakers before the end of the month. There are a variety of ways individuals can support the mission, including donations, volunteering, sponsorships and advocacy. “Anyone can join to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve,” Schmidt explains. “Our volunteers are the feet on the street—they are the real catalyst for making our mission come full circle.”

According to Make-A-Wish, research shows that children who have wishes granted receive much more than a simple act of kindness. The experience also provides an emotional and physical boost that can help them fight their illness and lead to better health outcomes. The nonprofit reports that 87% of alumni see their wish as a turning point in their treatment, and 99% of doctors say that wishes help families by relieving stress and offering comfort and inspiration during difficult times. “The power of a wish is transformative and life-changing,” Schmidt says. “Our wishes aren’t just nice experiences. They help children build the strength and find the joy needed to battle their illnesses. The experience doesn’t just impact the child but everyone it touches, including the family, medical team and community.”

Since its founding in 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted hundreds of thousands of wishes to critically ill children across the United States. Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas alone has made wishes come true for more than 10,000 kids and teens. Pictured on the cover: Wish Kid Adelyn with Caroline Schmidt, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas. To learn more about Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas, call 314.205.9474 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Photos courtesy of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas

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