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Wishes walk scheduled for Saturday

The Mississippi chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation will beholding one of its main fundraisers in Brookhaven Saturdaymorning.

The Fifth Annual Brookhaven Walk for Wishes, a 5k walk aiming toraise funds for the foundation’s Mississippi operations, will beginat 9 a.m. and last until around 11 a.m. Registration begins at 8a.m.

Saturday’s goal is to raise enough funds to grant at least fiveof the more than 100 wishes submitted in the state this year.

Foundation communications coordinator Chris Kennedy, aBrookhaven native, said the target fundraising amount for the walkis between $20,000 and $25,000 – money that will spent oncritically or terminally ill Mississippi children to purchase themthe opportunity to live out goals like being a policeman for a day,meeting favorite celebrities or athletes, or trips to DisneyWorld.

“It’s an opportunity to give a kid a chance to be a kid again,”he said.

Seven area teams – from places like Mamie Martin ElementarySchool, State Bank and Trust and Wesson Attendance Center – arescheduled to walk. Anyone wishing to form a last-minute team andraise money for the foundation is welcomed to give it a try andshow up for the walk Saturday, Kennedy said.

Likewise, any institutions or businesses that wish to sponsor ateam in the eleventh hour may also do so.

The highest-performing teams will receive small prizes likeT-shirts.

Kennedy said anyone not team-affiliated is welcome to attend thewalk, which will also feature a brief presentation on theMississippi chapter’s activities and personal accounts from thefamilies of wish children in the Lincoln County area.

Donations will be accepted on site.

Kennedy said the Mississippi chapter grants an average of 80wishes each year, and beat the average during the last fiscal year- which stretched from September 2007 to September 2008 – bygranting 81 wishes.

The foundation will continue to operate at full steam, Kennedysaid, even though the nation’s economic situation has driven downcharitable donations in recent times.

“We’ll keep plugging along – we’re not gonna stop grantingwishes,” he said. “That is what we do. We may have to try toeconomize in other areas, but we’re not going to stop grantingwishes.”

Kennedy said the foundation’s wishes carried an average cost of$5,000 one year ago, but that number is now probably closer to$6,000. He said the foundation spends a lot of money on big-ticketitems and travel for its wish kids, and the same amount of moneydoesn’t go as far as it did last year.

But people still support Make-A-Wish, he said.

“When the economy is tough, giving is down in some areas butsometimes it’s not that bad,” he said. “People still want to begenerous for a good cause.”

The Make-A-Wish Foundation was formed in Arizona in 1980 whenleukemia patient Christopher Greicius was granted his wish to be anAirzona state trooper for one day.

The foundation soon began to spread nationally andinternationally, and was founded in Mississippi on the Gulf Coastin 1984.