It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news of the passing of Scott Stahl, co-founder of Make-A-Wish. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stahl family and with all those for whom this mission has touched. We are also especially thinking tonight of all the co-founders who along with Scott had the wisdom – and fortitude – to launch this seemingly simple, yet oh so powerful organization.
While Scott would humbly say there was no one person, or even group, that should be credited with founding Make-A-Wish, Scott’s vision, caring nature, and kind soul, did indeed help launch an organization that has gone on to truly enrich the human experience. From the idea of just a few, millions of people around the world have felt the positive impacts of a wish.
Scott’s involvement in honoring Chris Greicius - and the idea for Make-A-Wish in general - may very well have occurred by happenstance. A few days after Chris died Scott was asked to accompany fellow officer and Make-A-Wish founder Frank Shankwitz, as law enforcement escorts at Chris’ funeral in Illinois. Scott’s parents lived in Illinois which helped with trip logistics. In a recent interview for a Make-A-Wish history project, Scott recalled, “This little kid was sworn in; the only [kid] ever sworn in. I thought we needed to give him something. I had the honor of flying back to bury him. He was a policeman. He died. He was entitled to a policeman’s funeral. The family got the flag. It was pretty much a good thing. We drove away sad but smiling.” The poignant experience, combined with the warm-hearted response from airline personnel on their return trip sparked a grand thought.
“They didn’t even know Chris; they didn’t even know us, and they’re doing all these things,” Stahl recalled. And so, on a flight from Chicago back to Phoenix, the question was asked: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this for other kids?”
Make-A-Wish was born.
Even then, before the collective experience of thousands of more wishes, before a wish impact study, before other valuable research we now have on hand, Scott realized the life-changing power of a wish. Having the chance to be part of making something good was an honor I know he always carried. Today we recognize him for his foresight and leadership, his fortitude, and his willingness to give. I encourage you to reflect on the mission we all help accomplish and the people who made it all possible.