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Frank Shankwitz Named Commencement Speaker at St. Norbert College

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From St. Norbert College, March 6, 2019
by Mike Counter,, 920-403-3089

St. Norbert College has announced that Frank Shankwitz, creator and founding-CEO of the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, will be its commencement speaker on Sunday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m. in the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on the college’s campus.

In 1972, Shankwitz started his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol. There, his interest in working with children began as a coach for the Special Olympics program. He also visited local grade schools to talk about bicycle safety and let the children sit on his highway patrol motorcycle.
Shankwitz was one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol who was responsible for granting the wish of Chris Greicius, 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.” Greicius was made the first and only honorary Arizona Highway Patrol member, complete with a custom made uniform, badge and Motor Officer Wings. He succumbed to his illness a few days after receiving his wish and was buried with full police honors in Illinois, with Shankwitz leading the police funeral procession.

Greicius was the inspiration for Shankwtiz’s idea to start a nonprofit foundation that would let children make a wish and have it come true. In 1980, Shankwitz, along with his wife, Kitty, and several others, founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Thirty-nine years later, Make-A-Wish grants wishes through 62 chapters located throughout the United States and operates in 45 other countries around the world. Since its founding, the nonprofit foundation has granted approximately 480,000 wishes to children worldwide. Make-A-Wish granted 15,600 wishes last year alone – on average, one every 34 minutes.

Shankwitz is a notable public speaker and was recognized as the #1 Keynote Speaker in 2016 by Forbes Magazine. The author of two books, “Wish Man” and “Once Upon A Wish,” a major motion picture, based on Shankwitz’s books and life, has been filmed and will be released in 2019.

Travis Vanden Heuvel, a 2009 St. Norbert College alumnus and President & Chief Executive Officer of TitleTown Publishing, acquired the rights for “Wish Man” in 2018 and recently announced that the national launch of Shankwitz’s first children’s book, “Wishes Don’t Wash Dishes,” will take place in De Pere, Wis. in May.

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