The Sauratown Trails Association welcomed the Make-A-Wish Foundation Saturday morning as part of the Fall Trailblaze Challenge where hikers commit to trekking 26.5 miles to raise funds to benefit North Carolina children diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.
The partnership between The Sauratown Trails Association and Make-A-Wish Foundation has raised more than $750,000.
George Marut, Vice President of Development at Make-A-Wish said the trail, which connects Hanging Rock on the east side with Pilot Mountain to the west, is a favorite among participants, but it’s always the local people that make the experience memorable.
“I don’t think we can express our gratitude enough. Without the trail and the generosity of the people in this community none of this would be possible. It all starts and ends with them and we can’t say thank you enough on behalf of all the children we serve,” he said.
To make the event a success, the Sauratown Trails Association, works with around 50 homes on the trail and the landowners give permission for hikers to move across their land.
The hike caters to all levels from novice to advanced outdoor enthusiasts and openly states the real challenge is to raise needed funds to grant the wishes of children with a critical illnesses.
Marut said 38 hikers participated on Saturday and each raised a minimum of $2,500.
“Often people will raise more because they understand the mission behind what we do. We have a lot of veterans and we also add new faces with each hike.”
The average “wish” for a child battling a life-threatening medical condition is around $7,500.
“One of the most popular wishes for all kids, specifically from this area, is a Disney wish. Families come in all different shapes and sizes so we try to stick with the nuclear family, but at the same time, in some cases a grandmother or grandfather or an aunt may go. We try to make it as inclusive as possible so they can be part of the experience.”
While each wish is special, Marut said the one he’s always thinking about is the next one.
“It’s hard to encapsulate it because you know if you’ve seen a child and their family given this gift of some normalcy, as brief as it may be, it’s really priceless. To think that more than 100 wishes have been granted from this community alone, off of this trail, is really something.”
Phil Barber, a member of the Sauratown Trails Association, opened his barn and served as one of four stops on the trail for participants to rest for a short time on Saturday.
“We’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the kids that have had wishes granted. It makes you stop and think when you start feeling a little bad. You remember the kids that are out here playing and laughing with smiles on their faces and it puts things in perspective,” Barber said. “It’s mind boggling to know right here in this county, they’ve been able to do this. I hope our landowners see the magnitude of what their generosity has done.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.