Make-A-Wish getting replacement for inspirational statue stolen from Phoenix headquarters

Apr 25, 2024, 4:35 AM

Split-panel image with a photo of Chris Greicius, the 7-year-old boy who inspired the creation of M...

Make-A-Wish is getting a replacement for the Chris Greicius statue that was stolen from the foundation's Phoenix headquarters in January 2023. Chris was the inspration behind the nonprofit group's creation. (Make-A-Wish and Tom White Studios, Inc. Photos)

(Make-A-Wish and Tom White Studios, Inc. Photos)

PHOENIX – Make-A-Wish is getting a replacement for the cherished statue that was stolen from the nonprofit foundation’s Phoenix headquarters last year.

Prescott Valley sculptor Tom White made both the original bronze statue of Chris Greicius, the 7-year-old boy who inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish, and its replacement.

Make-A-Wish Arizona’s Parsons Wish House, at 78th Street and Thomas Road, will be the new statue’s home.

Linda Pauling, Chris’ mother and a co-founder of Make-A-Wish, will be on hand when the sculpture is unveiled Tuesday. The unveiling comes one day after World Wish Day, which culminates World Wish Month.

“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,” Fran Mallace, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Arizona, said in a press release.

“This celebration is not just about the statue’s return but also the lasting impact Chris’ legacy has had on wish children and their families over that last 44 years.”

Who is the inspiration behind the Make-A-Wish statue?

Chris lived in Scottsdale and wanted to become a police officer when he grew up. After he was diagnosed with leukemia, the Arizona Department of Public Safety decided to make his wish come true.

The agency took the boy on a helicopter ride, gave him his own uniform and swore him in as the state’s first honorary highway patrolman shortly before his death in 1980.

Chris’ story was the inspiration for Make-A-Wish, which was formed to provide cherished experiences to children with critical illnesses. The group granted its first wish in 1981.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation now has around 60 chapters nationwide and 40 international affiliates.

What happened to original Chris Greicius statue?

A bronze sculpture portraying Chris in his DPS uniform was put up outside Make-A-Wish’s Phoenix headquarters near Highland Avenue and 16th Street in October 2018. It stood there until it was pried loose and hauled away on Jan. 3, 2023.

Troy Burke was arrested a week after the theft. Burke later pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking stolen property and was sentenced in September 2023 to five years in prison. He also was ordered to pay Make-A-Wish $55,200 in restitution.

Only a portion of the statue, which had been destroyed to be sold as scrap, was recovered.

Phoenix TV station Fox 10 reported in April 2023 that insurance would cover the cost of creating a replacement.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

19-year-old motorcyclist dies in glendale...

19-year-old dies in motorcycle crash in Glendale

A 19-year-old motorcyclist died in a traffic collision near Glendale Avenue and 99th Street on Saturday morning, authorities said.

1 hour ago

A file photo of a water fountain. Three chilled water fountains are coming to the hiking trails a...

County leaders invest in chilled water fountains at McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Three chilled water fountains will be installed surrounding the hiking trails at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

2 hours ago

The Italiano, located near 90th Street and Shea Boulevard, will open its doors this summer. It wi...

The Italiano restaurant to open this summer in Scottsdale

Another new Italian restaurant from award-winning Chef Joey Maggiore is arriving in Scottsdale. The Italiano will open its doors this summer.

3 hours ago

Tempe-based Nectero Medical raised $96 million in a series D round to accelerate clinical trials. (...

Amy Edelen/Phoenix Business Journal

Tempe biotech firm Nectero lands $96M VC investment to support clinical trials

A Tempe-based biotech company has landed one of the largest venture capital deals – if not the biggest – so far this year in Arizona.

4 hours ago

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs...

Governor Hobbs to appear at Memorial Day ceremony for military service members, veterans

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs will appear at a special Memorial Day ceremony to honor military service members, veterans and their families.

13 hours ago


Associated Press

Movie theaters see slowest Memorial Day box office in decades

The box office is cruising for a two-decade low. “Furiosa,” claimed the first place spot for Friday-Saturday-Sunday with $25.6 million.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Make-A-Wish getting replacement for inspirational statue stolen from Phoenix headquarters