ARIZONA NEWS

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.

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