Frank ShankwitzFounder of Make-A-Wish Foundation
Following high school, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, was stationed in England, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1965. Upon returning home, Frank was employed by Motorola, Inc. for seven yearsIn 1972, Frank started his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol as a car officer assigned to Yuma, Arizona where Frank’s interest in working with children began as a coach for the Special Olympics program.In 1975, Frank was transferred to the Phoenix area to be part of a new 10-man Motorcycle Tactical Unit designed for work throughout the state. For the next 10 years, whenever assigned to small towns, Frank would visit local grade schools and talk about bicycle safety and let the children sit on his motorcycle.Frank was one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol who was responsible for granting the “wish” of a 7-year old boy with leukemia, who wanted to be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer like his heroes, Ponch and John from the television show, “CHIPS”. Chris was made the first and only Honorary Arizona Highway Patrol Officer in the history of the Arizona Highway Patrol, complete with a custom made uniform, badge, and Motor Officer Wings.Chris succumbed to his illness a few day after receiving his “wish”, and was buried with full police honors in Illinois, with Frank leading the police funeral procession.
Chris was the inspiration for Frank’s idea to start a non-profit foundation that would let children ‘make a wish‘ and have it come true.Frank retired as a Homicide Detective from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, returned as a sworn Reserve Detective assigned to the Prescott Police Department Cold Case Homicide Unit, and is the current secretary/member with the Yavapai County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse. Frank has 40 years of service in law enforcement.