Make-A-Wish co-founder Frank Shankwitz, who is set to speak at the Ohio State Autumn Commencement ceremony, said that the students graduating this semester should be proud of their accomplishments.
“I have a new word that I’ve heard, ‘stickability,’ my new favorite word,” Shankwitz said. “People ask me why I started the foundation, someone said, ‘He has stickability.’ That’s what (the students) have, and however they go on, they have stickability to accomplish their goals.”
Shankwitz co-founded the Make-A-Wish Foundation after working as part of an Arizona Highway Patrol motorcycle unit, and he served as the foundation’s first president and CEO. He said Tuesday about 300,000 wishes have been granted since the start of the foundation in 1980.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that works toward fulfilling wishes for children with “life-threatening medical (conditions),” according to its website.
Shankwitz founded a new nonprofit, the Ripple Effect Foundation, in August and is the president, CEO and board chair. Shankwitz said the foundation would help charity campaigns, from disaster relief to smaller-scale causes. The fundraising would come through TV programming, though Shankwitz said the contacts were still in progress.
OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray said in an email the speaker is endorsed by the Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff. Members of the university community nominate speakers through the commencement speaker portal, which is always open. Only candidates nominated through this portal are considered for commencement speaker.
“I’m humbled and honored to be asked to the commencement speaker at Ohio State,” Shankwitz said. “But I don’t think they researched me very well because as a young kid I used to live up north (in Michigan).”
He added he plans on extending his visit to the capital city, as his two daughters, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild live in Columbus. One grandson, Jacob Simms, just started his first year at an OSU branch campus.
The ceremony is set for Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center. About 3,000 degrees are set to be awarded.