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St. Joseph’s unveils memorial for Make-A-Wish Foundation inspiration

Phoenix — A child who died of leukemia 35 years ago is the subject of a new memorial unveiled Monday inside St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

Christopher Greicius, 7, served as the inspiration for the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses.

Greicious loved tv cop shows.

“He loved ‘CHiPs,'” said Christopher’s mother, Linda Pauling. “He loved Telly Savalas and the show ‘Kojack.’ He loved all of his cop shows.”

It was 1977 when a doctor at St. Joseph’s diagnosed Christopher with leukemia and gave him three years to live. Pauling then decided that she would do her best to give him a full life. In the final days in 1980, the Arizona Department of Public Safety found out about the boy and stepped in to grant him some wishes.

“The first wish was a ride in the DPS helicopter,” said Pauling. “The second wish was when they came to the house and delivered a uniform to him. That was on May 1 of 1980, and he passed away on May 3.”

The DPS also officially swore Christopher in as the first honorary highway patrolman in state history.
Christopher was originally from Illinois, and Arizona DPS officers accompanied the body to its final resting place in that state and gave him a full fallen officer’s funeral.

After Christopher’s death, Pauling and others were inspired to create the foundation. She said that through the foundation, Christopher continues to touch lives.

“Three hundred fifty thousand children around the world have been touched by one little boy and his dream,” Pauling said.

Christopher became well known among hospital staff during his stay at St. Joseph’s. His love for bubble gum led them to call him the “Little Bubble Gum Trooper.”

The memorial unveiled Monday was the idea of Sister Madonna Marie Bolton who recalled Christopher as a “sweet boy” who everyone loved.

“It’s incredible to think of the impact his legacy has had on children throughout the world 35 years later,” Bolton said.

Bolton and Pauling were in attendance at the unveiling ceremony. They were joined by Chris’ doctor, Paul Baranko.

The memorial includes a shadowbox filled with pictures and mementos of Christopher and will hang in the halls of St.Joseph’s as part of the hospital’s 120th year celebration.

Pauling said that her son would be honored by the memorial.

“Christopher loved St. Joseph’s,” she said. “He trusted St. Joseph’s. In fact, he even named one of his stuffed doggies after Irene, which was the name of one of his nurses.”

Make-A-Wish now has 61 chapters in the United States and operates in 45 other countries.