For many in Atlantic Canada working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, spending time outdoors can make a world of difference for their physical and mental health. That activity could also make a world of difference for a child living with a critical illness.
As lockdowns continue and gyms and fitness centres remain closed, warmer spring weather means more Canadians are tying up their laces to get active outside. Whether it’s walking around your neighbourhood or a nearby trail, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada wants you to do it for a good cause: making a child’s wish come true.
Trailblaze for Wishes is a new fundraising initiative hosted by Make-A-Wish. It challenges individuals or teams to hike, walk, or run a distance chosen by the participant: 50, 100 or 200 kilometres over a 10-week period. The virtual challenge allows users to set the time, pace and destination and helps raise funds for helping wishes come true for critically ill children across the country.
“This is a new fundraiser for our area,” says Joyce Nifort, development manager at Make-A-Wish Nova Scotia Chapter. “It has been successful in a couple of other provinces across Canada, so we’re hoping to have 200 participants in just Nova Scotia alone come out in support of the children that we serve.”
Make-A-Wish Canada has granted more than 35,000 wishes since it began in 1983. According to the organization, granting a sick child’s wish can help build their emotional and physical strength needed to fight a critical illness such as cancer, heart and/or neurological conditions, cystic fibrosis and more.
Travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have put some wishes on hold for hundreds of terminally ill children in Canada. Make-A-Wish has reported a $16-million shortfall in 2020 because of the global pandemic and as many as 2,400 Canadian children are awaiting their wishes.
“We are still doing other types of wishes,” Nifort says. “That would entail maybe hangout rooms to electronic-type wishes; from playhouses to even bedroom makeovers. So at this point, we’re doing what we can and we still need to raise funds for the wishes that we have coming up.”
It is free to register for Trailblaze for Wishes and Make-A-Wish encourages supporters to raise at least $500 to help grant wishes for children. The organization has also developed incentives to motivate participants to achieve higher fundraising goals.
“Make-A-Wish is solely dependent on all the money we raise from donations to grant the wishes of kids. So when the community comes together … all it means is that more kids get their wishes granted,” Lisa Mills from Make-A-Wish Canada told Global News in an earlier interview.
Not only could your outdoor activity help a child in your community fulfill their most heartfelt wish, it could also benefit you from within.
“This is a great opportunity as well for our own mental health,” Nifort says.
Global News is a proud supporter of the Make-A-Wish Trailblaze for Wishes. For more information, visit traiblazeforwishes.ca.