Biopic Wish Man tells life Arizona Highway Patrolman Frank Shankwitz founder Make a Wish foundation

Living for a day as a superhero, coaching the Philadelphia Eagles soccer team, enjoying a private concert with Taylor Swift, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef; For almost four decades, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has made unimaginable dreams come true for children with devastating medical conditions.

Advertisements

And it all started with Chris Greicius, a terminally ill boy whose dying wish was to become a police officer and a crunchy Arizona Highway Patrol officer who made that dream a reality.

Frank Shankwitz is a founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The former Arizona Highway Patrol officer who became Wish Man has spent most of his adult life searching for the dreams of others, no matter how big or small

Frank Shankwitz is a founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The former Arizona Highway Patrol officer who became Wish Man has spent most of his adult life searching for the dreams of others, no matter how big or small

Frank Shankwitz was in all likelihood an unlikely hero – eight years with the police had made him cynical and withdrawn. At the time, his personal and professional life was in trouble: he came out of a bad divorce and was still recovering from an almost fatal accident when he was confronted with answering allegations of police violence. For Frank Shankwitz, the redemption came in the form of a seven-year-old child with only a week to live.

Frank Shankwitz has dedicated his entire life to helping others, now his inspiring and unimaginable life story will be put in the spotlight in the upcoming movie entitled Wish Man, which was released on September 3.

"All my life people have helped me, teachers, high school coaches, my employers, mentors, everyone has always helped me," said Frank Shankwitz from his home in Prescott, Arizona. & # 39; We were so poor, the poor people fed us. & # 39;

Frank & # 39; s police sergeant sits with Chris Greicius, the seven-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia whose dying wish was to become a motorcycle agent like his heroes in the CHiPS TV show. Frank recalls that he turned to Greicius & # 39; mother and said: & # 39; there is our chewing gum trooper & # 39 ;, years later she would write a book with the same title
Advertisements

Frank & # 39; s police sergeant sits with Chris Greicius, the seven-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia whose dying wish was to become a motorcycle agent like his heroes in the CHiPS TV show. Frank recalls that he turned to Greicius & # 39; mother and said: & # 39; there is our chewing gum trooper & # 39 ;, years later she would write a book with the same title

Frank & # 39; s police sergeant sits with Chris Greicius, the seven-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia whose dying wish was to become a motorcycle agent like his heroes in the CHiPS TV show. Frank recalls that he turned to Greicius & # 39; mother and said: & # 39; there is our chewing gum trooper & # 39 ;, years later she would write a book with the same title

Frank Shankwitz was a member of the ten-man tactical unit of the Arizona Highway Patrol that covered the entire state by motorcycle, spent 42 years with the police before retiring in 2014. After 18 months he handed the Make-A-Wish Fundament for more capable hands that he said, & # 39; changed it to what it is today & # 39;

Frank Shankwitz was a member of the ten-man tactical unit of the Arizona Highway Patrol that covered the entire state by motorcycle, spent 42 years with the police before retiring in 2014. After 18 months he handed the Make-A-Wish Fundament for more capable hands that he said, & # 39; changed it to what it is today & # 39;

Frank Shankwitz was a member of the ten-man tactical unit of the Arizona Highway Patrol that covered the entire state by motorcycle, spent 42 years with the police before retiring in 2014. After 18 months he handed the Make-A-Wish Fundament for more capable hands that he said, & # 39; changed it to what it is today & # 39;

Shankwitz was just a baby when his mother left the house and did not return. & # 39; We had no idea where she was going. & # 39; Nevertheless, he looks back lovingly on his earliest childhood memories: & # 39; It was so much fun; aunts, uncles, cousins, there were always family gatherings. Just very happy times. & # 39; His charmed childhood would suddenly come to a halt when his mother came back into his life and plucked him from the playground of his kindergarten. & # 39; A lady grabbed me and said: & # 39; I am your mother and you are coming with me & # 39; and I had no idea who she was. & # 39;

Little Frank and his mother, Lorraine, ended up at a campsite in Cedar River, Michigan, where they lived for five years in a leaking tent on the shores of Lake Michigan. & # 39; Survival was the greatest, & # 39; he told DailyMail.com when he remembered the long days that he was left alone while his mother was working.

Frank Shankwitz Sr. never gave up looking for his son; and when little Frank was 10 years old, his father eventually tracked them down, but before he had the chance to take his son back; Lorraine fled. & # 39; He went in to have the sheriff arrested. She threw everything we had in the back of a car and took me to Arizona. & # 39; This traumatic separation from his father for the second time would haunt Frank for the rest of his life.

Advertisements

This learning was a turning point for the film director, Theo Davies, who remembered driving Frank around the Arizona location: & # 39; He started talking about his father and he got emotional and shed tears to wipe his eyes. I thought, with all that distraction with Make-A-Wish, and everything he has done to help children around the world – this is really what formed the man. & # 39;

Frank shows Chris Greicius his motorcycle. The police had a tailor-made uniform for Greicius; the store owner and two employees kept sewing all night so that it was ready on time. Chris died a few days later

Frank shows Chris Greicius his motorcycle. The police had a tailor-made uniform for Greicius; the store owner and two employees kept sewing all night so that it was ready on time. Chris died a few days later

Frank shows Chris Greicius his motorcycle. The police had a tailor-made uniform for Greicius; the store owner and two employees kept sewing all night so that it was ready on time. Chris died a few days later

This learning was a turning point for the film director, Theo Davies, who remembered driving Frank around the Arizona location: & # 39; He started talking about his father and he got emotional and shed tears to wipe his eyes. I thought, with all that distraction with Make-A-Wish, and everything he has done to help children around the world – this is really what formed the man. & # 39;

After weeks of sleeping on the road in the car, Frank and his mother finally settled in a small trailer without running water in Seligman, Arizona – the small town where they eventually ran out of gas and money. Shankwitz started washing dishes at Delgadillo's famous Snow Cap Drive-In to pay bills. Juan Delgadillo became a stand-in father figure for Shankwitz: & He has kept me busy with sports, I had never played before. He taught me basketball, music, building things. He taught me integrity and character, & Shankwitz explained. & # 39; And the greatest lesson he has taught me in life was that you don't have to have money to be a hero or give it back. & # 39; That lesson would inevitably be the driving force behind every decision that Frank made as an adult.

Advertisements

And then, at the age of twelve, Frank & # 39; s mother abandoned him again: & # 39; I had just started in seventh grade and my mother said she was leaving, she was going to move to Prescott, and that I only for ben. & # 39; He pauses, & # 39; and that kind of devastated me. & # 39;

Distraught, Frank turned to Juan for help. & # 39; He taught me how to turn negative things into positive ones & # 39 ;, said Shankwitz. Juan arranged for him to stay with a local widow for $ 20 a week. Now, instead of taking a shower in the Santa Fe Men & Quarters, he lived in a house with running water, he had his own bedroom with a private bathroom. & # 39; The next positive is that she is the best cook in town. You no longer have to worry about meals. And the last positive: she has the first television in Seligman, Arizona. & # 39;

Chris Greicius poses in his police uniform on his motorcycle. Shankwitz told DailyMail.com: "... Chris changed me, I suddenly saw that I had another mission in life & # 39;

Chris Greicius poses in his police uniform on his motorcycle. Shankwitz told DailyMail.com: "... Chris changed me, I suddenly saw that I had another mission in life & # 39;

Chris Greicius poses in his police uniform on his motorcycle. Shankwitz told DailyMail.com: & # 39; … Chris changed me, I suddenly saw that I had another mission in life & # 39;

Frank Shankwitz (left) poses for a photo with actor Robert Pine playing Sgt. Eddie Newman, a Frank mentor while working in the Arizona Highway Patrol

Frank Shankwitz (left) poses for a photo with actor Robert Pine playing Sgt. Eddie Newman, a Frank mentor while working in the Arizona Highway Patrol

Advertisements

Frank Shankwitz (left) poses for a photo with actor Robert Pine playing Sgt. Eddie Newman, a Frank mentor while working in the Arizona Highway Patrol

After finishing high school, Shankwitz joined the Air Force, but managed to avoid time in Vietnam because he was stationed in England. He was recruited by Motorola after joining because they were looking for veterans with extremely secret security clearances while developing rockets for the government. They paid for Frank to study at the G.I. Bill where he got his degree in statistics, & # 39; my math teachers have a big kick out of that, & he laughs. For seven years, Shankwitz enjoyed working for Motorola, he had a great salary and was promoted all the time, but he felt something was missing.

Several of his friends joined the Arizona Highway Patrol and with their push he also applied for a whim. & # 39; The best career choice I've ever made, because 42 years later I finally left & # 39 ;, he told DailyMail.com.

There were also difficult times for Shankwitz, the film delves into a storyline that shows that Frank Shankwitz is being framed for a police brutality incident by a fellow agent. According to the film, Shankwitz called for backup when routine traffic got out of hand. It got worse when the responding officer, known for his bad reputation, used excessive force while arresting the drunken passenger in the stationary vehicle – striking the man with a flashlight within an inch of his life. The internal investigation was undermined by the guilty agent who then pointed the finger at Shankwitz. When asked if he wanted to discuss the claims, Shankwitz said: & # 39; No. We let the film speak for itself, it's over and done. I didn't want to add that in the movie because it brought a bit of a bad light on the Highway Patrol with which I spent 42 years. & # 39;

In 1978, Frank Shankwitz was involved in an almost fatal car accident in which he was declared dead on the spot. He hit another vehicle at 85 km / h while sitting on his motorcycle during a high-speed chase with a drunk driver, but continued without a pulse after four minutes. He spent six weeks in the hospital recovering from a skull fracture, a huge traumatic brain injury, and several broken bones. After he had fully recovered, his doctor said to him: & You died that night and God saved you for a reason. Now it's up to you to find that reason. & # 39; He continued: & # 39; And it was two years later when I met Chris that we found that reason. & # 39;

Andrew Steele, who plays the role as Frank Shankwitz talks to the young actor who plays Chris Greicius during a moving scene in the film
Advertisements

Andrew Steele, who plays the role as Frank Shankwitz talks to the young actor who plays Chris Greicius during a moving scene in the film

Andrew Steele, who plays the role as Frank Shankwitz talks to the young actor who plays Chris Greicius during a moving scene in the film

Actors Andrew Steele and Kirby Blanton (left) stand next to the real Kitty Carlisle and Frank Shankwitz

Actors Andrew Steele and Kirby Blanton (left) stand next to the real Kitty Carlisle and Frank Shankwitz

Actors Andrew Steele and Kirby Blanton (left) stand next to the real Kitty Carlisle and Frank Shankwitz

During the recovery from the accident, Frank met his current wife, Kitty Carlisle. Carlisle worked as a police secretary when the commander asked her to check on Frank in the immediate days after he was released from the hospital. & # 39; Let's say it like that, it wasn't a love / hate relationship. It was a very & # 39; non-like & # 39; relationship. He had a huge chip on his shoulder the size of Texas, and he wasn't fond of women you could see, & she told DailyMail.com.

& # 39; Yes, I was somewhat angry at that particular time. I had just gone through a bad divorce and I had a lot of PTSD because I had to work in that fatal team. Just too many dead bodies, & Frank explained.

Shankwitz was on patrol one afternoon when the dispatcher invaded and instructed him to find the nearest telephone booth as quickly as possible – his commanders at the station had an important message for him. & # 39; I called that I was in trouble somewhere & # 39 ;, Shankwitz remembers. Instead, he was asked for a favor by a customs agent named Tom Austin, who had befriended a little boy named Chris Greicius with leukemia. Chris's heroes were Ponch and John from the popular television show on the California Highway Patrol, CHiPS and his only wish was to meet a real motorcycle agent.

Wish Man will be released on request 3 September

Wish Man will be released on request 3 September

Wish Man will be released on request 3 September

They agreed to pick up Chris from the hospital in the helicopter and flew him to the police headquarters in Phoenix. & # 39; As the helicopter approached … I could look up and see this boy's face pressed against the glass with a big smile on his face & # 39 ;, said Shankwitz, expecting the paramedics to see him help as soon as they landed. Instead, Chris came out the door with energy, & # 39; he laughed and giggled and ran around the place. & # 39; He couldn't contain his excitement. Shankwitz remembers looking at Chris & # 39; mother who cried: & # 39; I didn't understand why at first. Then it dawned on me, she has her seven-year-old back. & # 39;

Advertisements

Chris' dream was to become a motorcycle officer and the station gave him a set of & # 39; wings & # 39; – the silver emblem that all motorcycle agents wear attached to their uniform. Before they had the chance to present it to him, Chris took a devastating turn for the worst and went into a coma. Shankwitz rushed to the hospital and squeezed it onto his small custom-made uniform hanging on his bed – he became the first and only honorary patrol on the highway in the state of Arizona. He died a few days later.

When we came back from Chris's funeral, Frank came up with the idea for Make-A-Wish: & # 39; I started thinking, here's a boy who had a wish and we made it come true. Why can't we do that for other children? And then the idea for Make-A-Wish was born. & # 39;

Kitty joined the board together with four others, including Chris Greicius' mother and fellow colleagues of the police. & # 39; I think then I started feeling feelings and fell in love with him at the start of Make-A-Wish, because he had just become a totally different person. He lost that façade to the tough guy, & Kitty told Dailymail.com.

Getting Make-A-Wish off the ground was not easy, but work ethic was something that Frank learned at a young age when he had to survive alone without parents. Frank and Kitty continued to work full-time on the police while trying to balance the non-profit within 20 hours of long days. After 18 months, Shankwitz made the decision to transfer the reins to more capable hands. & # 39; I went to narcotics at the time, I could no longer have my face and name plastered everywhere. & # 39;

More importantly, Frank knew he needed professional help from the non-profit world: & # 39; You heard the sentence, & # 39; surround yourself with people who are smarter than you & # 39 ;, right? Well, that was the best decision the board made at the time. & # 39; They started hiring people who had the right experience, background and contacts to turn Make-A-Wish into what it is today – a global non-profit in 50 countries around the world that have delivered more than 334,000.

Advertisements

Helping people has been the foundation of Frank & # 39; s life since childhood. & # 39; What I told Theo, the director, in all these interviews was that Chris changed me, I suddenly saw that I had another mission in life. & # 39;

. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) news (t) taylor-swift

- Advertisement -