Why would I do this-- take on the Make-A-Wish® Alabama Trailblaze Challenge, a 26.3 mile day-long charity hike in Talladega National Forest--for THREE years in a row?
First, the kids. Wish kids are some of the bravest and sweetest kids you'll ever know. They wish for one day to escape hospitals, doctors, and treatments. They wish to instead work in a pickle factory, become a superhero, go snorkeling, give their baseball team new uniforms, or push all of the buttons in a tall building's elevator. Their innocence and unexpected wisdom stays with you.
Second, to continuously give back to an event and organization with which I have a deeply personal connection. I signed up to take on this challenge for the first time in Jan 2020, not knowing that I was about to face my own hard thing-- battling breast cancer. After my diagnosis, I deferred to the 2021 hike not knowing what was in store for me health-wise but believing somehow I'd be on the trail, and even though my 6.5 weeks of radiation were during the training months, I persisted. The training hikes and the main event were certainly physically challenging, but the mental and emotional benefits far outweighed them. The training didn’t just keep me active during my treatment. It gave me a way to still be of service, have a positive focus outside of myself, and connect with nature. It provided healing moments of solitude while walking the trails for reflection. In those moments where it got tough (and it did), I thought of the wish kids, their struggles, and why I was there. Make-A-Wish was giving me a day away from my "hard stuff" so that I could help give the kids a day away from theirs. I looked at the other hikers in front of me and behind me who each had their own touching story of why they hiked. I put one foot in front of the other until 26.3 miles were behind me.
In those moments, neither I nor the kids were fighting alone... This is why I’m hiking again.
This hike doesn’t just offer amazing life-changing experiences for the children it serves. It does so for the hikers and folks like you who support the cause by helping generate the funds that make the real magic happen. By gifting to this campaign you will be helping make a difference in the life of a child.
Together, we can make a difference!