When a child with a terminal illness is having their wish granted it's an event that no one wants to miss. One Ahwatukee Foothills man believes it's something no one should forget either.
Justin Campbell was in law enforcement for years in California when he first got involved with charity work. He enjoyed being a part of the Big Brother Big Sister Program and showing kids that police are not bad guys. Eventually he moved to Utah and discovered that the Big Brother Big Sister Program didn't really exist there.
"Driving around on patrol one day I just had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to give back," Campbell said. "I need to do something more. I thought, let me look around and find what's awesome. I knew Make a Wish was awesome so I went to them."
Campbell offered to do free security for Make a Wish but he also offered something he did as a hobby - videography.
He filmed the entire day of a wish being granted and edited it down to about an hour long video. The first video he did, Campbell says the boy passed away four months later and his parents were even more grateful for that last video.
"A lot of parents tell me for the first time in a long time they didn't have to be behind the camera," Campbell said. "When they are behind the camera they're zooming in and zooming out and shaking all over the place and they can't edit it. To have someone professional come along and do it for them so they can spend all day with the child, it's the best thing in the world."
Campbell continued working in law enforcement and doing videography for Make a Wish on a volunteer basis when he moved to Arizona to work in juvenile probation for Maricopa County. Eventually he took a position with the Maricopa Unified School District until this past May when a final round of layoffs took away his job.
"The problem I've always had with doing this full time before was I didn't have the time, because I'm working, or I didn't have the money," Campbell said. "Now that I've pulled out my retirement and have been living off that I have the money and I totally have the time. I decided to put everything together and make it happen."
A Wish Remembered was created. Campbell goes out on assignments with just his 13-year-old daughter as his assistant. His goal is to be able to provide free video and photography services to every child getting a wish granted.
"If it's a child that just wants a laptop and he's probably never going to get out of that hospital, that wish to him is just as important as the kid that's going to Disneyland," Campbell said. "In the parent's eyes it's the same thing, there's no difference. We want that wish recorded."
Campbell is working closely with Make a Wish because he has volunteered for them for so long but he's also talking to Starlight Children's Foundation to do the same thing. Recently, Campbell joined the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and says he's had a chance to meet many people that have different projects that may go along with his goal to give back to the community. Ultimately, for him, it's just about recording those tender moments in a child's life.
"It's just an incredible thing when you watch a child's wish being granted," Campbell said. "They don't even realize they have cancer sometimes. To them it's the perfect day and that's my job is to give the parents back their perfect day. I wrote on my website that I'll do this until they put me in a pine box. I totally believe it's a great thing and a great cause."
A Wish Remembered is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization yet. Campbell is still getting things in order to see if that is the direction he should take. His business is run on donations so that he can do the work full time for free. For more information on A Wish Remembered or to donate, visit awishremembered.com.
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