Meeting the ‘mother’ of Make-a-Wish Foundation

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Ahead of Friday night's Wish Ball 2019 benefiting Make-a-Wish Michigan, FOX 17 had the chance to sit down with the woman who started the national foundation 39 years ago.

It was April 1980, and Linda Pauling's 7 year-old-son Chris was battling leukemia.  Chris was always a big fan of police officers.

“He always believed he was a policeman, that’s what he told me and the department of public safety highway patrol, these men, got together and made it happen," she recalled.

It was a group of police officers that sparked the start of a wish granting mission for Pauling.

"He played in the driveway with police officers, sat on a motorcycle.  They custom-made his little uniform for him. It usually takes officers six months, but he got it overnight," Pauling said. "When Christopher did pass away, two officers did fly with the flag over his casket and escorted him to his final resting place."

Several weeks after her son's passing, Pauling met up with some of the people that helped to make his wish come true. They were able to incorporate Make-a-Wish within several months and they were off.

“It's devastating to get that news that your child might have three to three-and-a-half years to live.  And then to see his wish come true, you suddenly see them stand tall and happy like a normal little boy or girl," Pauling said.

Make-a-Wish Michigan, a chapter of the national agency, is now in it's 35th year of delivering magic to children.  Last year, the agency granted wishes for 459 kids in the state.

“When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening or critical illness, a lot of control is taken away from them. And Make-A-Wish, through the power of a wish, gives that back to them," said Karen Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Michigan. "It allows them to make a really big decision and gives them that opportunity to dream and think about the power of possibilities.”

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