Walkers hit pavement to realize kids’ wishes

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Walk For Wishes is 8 a.m. Saturdayat Exchange Club Park.

The organization raised more than $26,000 in last year’s event,but organization representatives acknowledge that is unlikely thisyear in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many of the people whoregularly donate likely have already pledged funding todisaster-relief organizations, said Jane Walsh, an eventorganizer.

“We know we won’t get the donations we got last year because ofHurricane Katrina. Last year was great. I think we’ll do well againthis year, but we’ve had a few teams have to back out,” Walshsaid.

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For that reason, she said, this year’s goal has been left open,and no specific amount has been set. Under normal circumstances,the goal would have been set at a certain percentage above theamount raised the year before.

Participants will gather at the park at 8 a.m., and prizes willbe awarded between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The 5K walk will begin at 9 a.m.Refreshments will be provided.

Participants can also meet Tra Henderson, 7, and Jenny Walker,7, both of Brookhaven, before the walk. Henderson has osteogenisisimperfecta and received his wish to visit Disney World in Floridain June. Walker, who has Liddie’s Syndrome, visited Disney Worldlast month.

An early turn-in period has been set for Friday from 4 until 6p.m. at the State Room.

“We have all been reminded over the last few days how importantit is to hope,” said Michelle Legeai, special events coordinator.”Hope has always been the most important part of our mission atMake-A-Wish, but now more than ever it has become our focus.”

Legeai said she believes funding is even more important thisyear than perhaps in years past.

“With the many hurricane evacuees fleeing to Jackson andsurrounding areas, we expect an influx of wish children,” she said.”Our mission of granting these wishes has not changed, so we willcontinue to work hard to grant all the wishes as quickly aspossible.”

Money donated stays in the local area to help with wishes forlocal children, Walsh said.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization thatgrants wishes to children who suffer from life-threatening medicalconditions. Since 1984, the Mississippi chapter has granted morethan 800 wishes.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Make-A-WishFoundation, wishing to donate or becoming a member should contactthe chapter office at 1-800-819-4072 or by e-mail atmiss@wish.org.