A Maritime mom wants you to walk (or run) to help raise funds for kids waiting on a wish.
Heather Langley knows first-hand how Make-A-Wish changes lives for families in Atlantic Canada. Her daughter, Lucy was diagnosed at birth with a rare genetic condition called Wolf Hirschhorn, which affects one in 50,000 kids. Lucy’s wish was to have a Hippocampe stroller and Make-A-Wish pulled through thanks to the ongoing support from generous Maritimers through fundraising events like the upcoming Trailblaze for Wishes.
“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.”
Trailblaze for Wishes 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. Lucy is this year’s event ambassador.
According to the Make-A-Wish website, wishes are essential to a child’s medical journey, providing optimism during a very difficult time and can help sick children build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illness. It’s not just the kids that benefit from their wishes being granted, but their entire family.
“It (Hippocampe stroller) has been a lifesaver during COVID,” says Langley. “With schools closed and me working from home … I used that every single day, multiple times a day. It’s not only wonderful for Lucy to get out in fresh air and be able to do more, but for me, just the mental health break of being able to take her out and get some exercise — it makes life easier for the family.”
A Hippocampe stroller is a lightweight, all-terrain wheelchair made to roll on a variety of surfaces from sandy beaches to slick, snow-covered paths. It was the wish of Lucy’s active family to make sure she is included in all of their outdoor activities all year long. Langley estimates one of these strollers can cost $10,000.
“These wishes are life-changing,” Langley says. “I would say that people probably don’t have any idea how expensive everything for our children’s lives is.”
Langley says having wishes granted is a game-changer for families like hers. “To do things that other people, I think, just take for granted … all those things are hard for our families so when you’re able to get a wish that allows you to do that and just participate in those activities that make life feel kind of normal and fun — it’s huge.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way non-profits raise money, with public health measures limiting or forcing the cancellation of established fundraisers that would otherwise see participants gather in large groups, eating barbeque and rallying together in public places.
Langley feels that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused organizations to adjust their fundraising strategies but has also opened the eyes of families who do not have children living with a disability.
“I’ve heard a lot of families say that ‘typical’ families are feeling the way our families feel,” she says. “For a lot of kids who have accessibility issues, they’ve often faced with not being able to go places and not being able to go to parks, so I think people are seeing what that kind of feels like.”
She says the Make-A-Wish Trailblaze for Wishes and other virtual events that get people active during the pandemic are a great way to take pride in your physical progress while helping others along the way.
“Trailblazers is such a great way to encourage people to get out, improve their mental and physical health but also give back to kids that really, really benefit from events like this.”
Global News is a proud supporter of the Make-A-Wish Trailblaze for Wishes. For more information, visit traiblazeforwishes.ca.