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Frank Shankwitz, founder of Make-A-Wish, dies

Thanks to Shankwitz and the other founders, more than 500,000 children have gotten their wish, the Make-A-Wish foundation said.
Credit: Arizona Department of Public Safety

ARIZONA, USA — Frank Shankwitz, the founder of the Make-A-Wish foundation and a former Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper, has died.

The news was confirmed after DPS sent an email to 12 News saying the department is mourning the loss of the former trooper.

"He was dedicated to AZDPS as well as Arizona families & children," DPS said. "The Department has lost several venerable retirees in the last twelve months, & the AZDPS family grieves for each of them."

Hollie Costello, the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Make-A-Wish, also confirmed the news. 

"Thanks to all of our generous founders, more than 500,000 children with critical illnesses worldwide have had the chance to experience the long-lasting, life-changing benefits of a wish," Costello said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Shankwitz family."

Shankwitz, also a board member of the Humankind Alliance, reportedly got the idea to start Make-A-Wish after he and other officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol granted the wish of a 7-year-old boy named Chris, who was dying from leukemia by letting him be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer, according to the alliance's website.

After Chris died a few days after his wish was granted, Shankwitz and his wife Kitty founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation .

The Shankwitz family received an outpouring of condolences on social media with numerous people sharing their memories of the man. There have been no details released in the cause of Shankwitz's death.