Lost statue honoring first wish recipient restored to Make-A-Wish Arizona

Author: Lenore Carey

On Tuesday, April 30, the Phoenix community gathered to witness the unveiling of a special statue at the Make-A-Wish Foundation headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona. The ceremony celebrated the reinstallation of a statue which stood in downtown Phoenix as a tribute to Chris Greicius, the world’s first wish recipient. In January 2023, the statue was stolen off the street. Last Tuesday, an exact replica of the original statue was restored to the indoor lobby of the Parson’s Wish House.

Sculptor Tom White made both statues to honor the seven-year-old Chris Greicius who lost his battle
with leukemia in 1980. It took him a year to recreate the new statue out of the same cast he used to shape the first version over five years ago. In 2018, White made the unusual decision to have the mold he used for the original statue. “[Tom White] didn’t have the heart to destroy the mold,” said Linda Pauling, Chris’s mother. “He reused the original cast.” This strange, unexplained feeling allowed the artist to bless Pauling with a second memorial to her son after the theft last January.

The new statue has found a permanent home inside Chris’s Corner at the Parson’s Wish House in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Chris’s Corner memorial display contains replicas of items from his wish to become a police officer, as well as mementos donated by his family. The placement of the statue was a strategic move for the Make-A-Wish staff; Chris will be the first thing that Make-A-Wish families and
volunteers see on their visit to the office.

Fran Mallace, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Arizona, announced: “We are thrilled to welcome Chris home to Make-A-Wish. The statue’s return restores a piece of our history and serves as a powerful reminder of our mission.”

The statue unveiling also coincided with a major milestone for the foundation: on April 30, Make-A-Wish Arizona celebrated a total of 8,000 wishes granted to critically-ill children. More significantly, this was achieved on the last day of April World Wish Month, which was established this year to raise awareness about the impact of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish looks ahead to many more years of adding joy and hope to the lives of families across Arizona.

To learn more about Chris Greicius and the legacy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit arizona.wish.org.


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