Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and experience nature. It is a good way to exercise and experience new things, and in the case of two Elmore County women, it is a good way to support a good cause.
Melissa Orr and Keri Watts are on a mission to grant wishes to children who have been diagnosed with a critical illness. The duo has set out to raise $10,000 for the Make a Wish Alabama's Trailblazer Challenge.
"It is the biggest fundraiser that Make a Wish Alabama has every year," Orr said. "It's a hike.”
Along with hiking 26.3 miles in one day, Trailblazers commit to raising at least $2,500 for Make a Wish Alabama.
The hike will take place in the Talladega National Forrest. This will be the fifth annual Trailblazer Challenge. Orr is a previous participant in the Trailblazer Challenge, so she is considered alumni. As an alumnus, she was offered a unique and challenging opportunity.
“We were given the opportunity to become wish heroes," Orr said.
Wish Heroes must pledge to raise at least $5,000 and hike a total of 54.5 miles in two sessions. "One session will be here in Alabama, the other 28.2 miles will be in the South Carolina foothills," Orr explained.
Collectively, the Orr and Watts are committed to raising $10,000 for Make a Wish Alabama this year.
Orr got involved in the organization after she lost her 6-year-old nephew, Kyle Golden, unexpectedly 6 years ago.
"I guess you could say this is my way of keeping his memory alive," she said.
Together, the duo has raised over $20,000 for Make a Wish Alabama in the last two years. To reach that goal, Orr and Watts are seeking help from the community.
"This year, we bit off a little more than we can chew by saying that we could raise $10,000, and we decided to see if we could try to get some businesses around Elmore County to help us along by donating to our Elmore County basket," Orr said.
Donating to the Elmore County basket is a win-win because not only does it serve a great cause, it also gives exposure to local businesses that give to it.
"We thought this was a really good way to get local businesses, not only to support is by giving us a product to put in it, some have made monetary donations. This will allow us to spotlight those who are supporting us, along with bringing awareness that there are 292 children in Alabama who are critically ill, who are waiting for a wish."
The smallest wish cost around $2500.
"That's why $2,500 is the first goal they ask us to meet as a Trailblazer," Orr said.
Donations to the Make a Wish Alabama benefit children in the community.
"There are children in Alabama, in central Alabama that are on that waiting list and any amount of money donated to Make a Wish Trailblaze Challenge, 75% of it goes directly to wishes," Orr said.
A raffle for the Elmore County Basket will be held on March 31 via Facebook Live. Tickets will be available beginning March 1.
Anyone who donates to the Trailblazer Challenge during the month of March will automatically be added to the raffle.
"We are thinking around $10 because we want it to be affordable," Orr said. "We might create a deal where people can buy more tickets for a little less because, at the end of the day, this money is for these kids. We would love to raise more than $10,000."
There is still plenty of time to donate to the Make a Wish Alabama Trailblazer Challenge, go to donate an item to the Elmore County basket, call 334-300-7724.
Donations can also be made online at https://secure2.wish.org/site/TR?px=4960614&fr_id=3793&pg=personal#.YDAv0RNKii4 or at https://secure2.wish.org/site/TR?px=4710029&fr_id=3793&pg=personal#.YDAv4hNKii4.