THURMONT, Md. (WDVM) — Over 20 hikers started their Saturday morning at 5 o’clock to hike over 26 miles for an incredible cause.
Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic held their annual Trail Blaze Challenge, a hike that spans almost 27 miles through the Catoctin Mountains, to raise funds needed to grant wishes for children with critical illnesses.
Jessica Phillips was lacing her hiking boots bright and early for her third Trail Blaze Challenge, an event she has looked forward to each year.
“Each year is a different challenge, different weather, different people. But it’s definitely more fun the more you do it,” Phillips said. “It’s just an awesome way to not only raise money and highlight the wonderful organization. You meet a ton of amazing people and push yourself physically and it’s an awesome time each year.”
Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic was supposed to hold their Annual Trail Blaze Challenge in October but had to postpone the event due to COVID-19. CEO Lesli Creedon explained that there was careful deliberation when deciding whether to hold the fundraiser altogether. She and her team implemented COVID safety measures to ensure that hikers, staff, and volunteers could still enjoy the day while staying mindful of the pandemic.
“To see it come to fruition after many, many months of planning, and as a Wish Mom, knowing all of the money we raise is going to help children like my own son, Jack, it’s just the most exciting day in a long, long many of days,” Creedon said.
James Patterson is a parent of two Wish Kids, his 16-year-old son, Gabriel, and his 13-year-old daughter, Nora. They have been battling the same rare disease for the last 8 years. Their wishes were granted in the summer of 2019 and then in January of 2020. Their father was more than ready to hike the Catoctin Mountain Trail to help grant wishes for kids like his own.
“It really just makes me feel like I’m able to help support a community of wish kids,” Patterson said. “People before us did this and helped support my kids so now I just wanna help make that sort of thing happen for other kids.”
Each hiker had to raise a minimum of $2500 and the money raised from this event will go towards granting 15 to 20 new wishes. Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic will soon be granting 8 wishes in Washington County.